Worked on this the last couple of days. It would've been finished sooner but our basement flooded from all this rain. Not too bad but we actually had to use the sump pump to get it all drained out.
Anyway, I'm very happy with the result (obviously) otherwise I wouldn't be posting it =P
So a bit about the cover - Yes, those labels pointing to the brain are the actual titles of the stories. I've included 3 stories previously published and 4 brand new ones. Used the same title font as the first volume to unify the two. As usual, I was going for a bold graphic image, the same things that get my attention when I'm shopping for books. Maybe it's all the science courses I've been taking but I just wanted to incorporate the anatomy into this somehow.
I originally wanted to do one of those posts where I break down my process of designing a cover but I got carried away with working on the actual cover that I totally forgot to take screenshots. Whoopsies. The beauty of it is, I've got the Photoshop layers saved so technically I can still do that, or I can just save it for the next project.
I'll make a general announcement here when it's available for purchase. I'll give my dear Hooligans (newsletter subscribers) have a chance to purchase it at a discounted rate of course. Never too late to join though.
In other news, my pre-clinical classes have kept me busy, which explains my absence with the blogs. I have this break in between semesters which I'm using to play catch up with sites, wrap up some projects and start new ones, spend time with family, and take lots of naps.
I really do miss blogging regularly but I don't feel guilty anymore about not making frequent posts just because life and shit happens. I'm thinking maybe small, bite-sized, less monumental blog posts are the way too solve that little issue. We shall see.
So for now, enjoy the eye candy.
You still there?
Yes. I thought you were gone.
No, just keeping busy. Did you get the photos I sent you?
I'm looking at it right now. I'm not sure what you're gonna do with a gutted school bus parked in a hole on the ground.
It's a makeshift shelter. To defend my property
From whoever did this to everyone else.
You think a person did this?
No, a group of people maybe. This is too big to be carried out my an individual. So...what do you think?
I think you're wasting your time. I think you're being a bit paranoid. Let's say there's a malevolent force out there who did this. How can you possibly think you can defeat something that pulled this off overnight? People are dead. They died while we slept. We heard nothing, saw nothing. I don't know about you but I've lost count as to how many corpses I've seen. I'm tired. And the only person I've had contact with is you. I'm not sure how long the grid is going to be up and running. But what happens when it does power down? Our only means of communication will be taken away from us. I can't trust you enough to give you a location. And I'm sure you feel the same way. I sure as hell am not going to leave my home to seek out some unstable stranger that may or may not shoot me down on sight. Not to mention what's really out there. I'm not prepared for that. Not yet.
You don't think I've thought about that? I'm just trying to do what I think is right. What about you? What have you been doing this whole time? How do I know you're not one of them?
You don't. I can ask you the same thing. I don't need to tell you what I've been up to but I will. I've been stockpiling on necessities. Just trying to think one two steps ahead. I've got weapons, food and shelter. I've been going into people's homes to check if anyone's still alive. I've been burying the dead. I've been reading a lot. Trying to keep an alert mind. That's all I've got now. And if my time comes. Then I guess it's my time to go. But until then, I do what I can with what I have.
She/He is absolutely right. Like it or not, this is all I've got. I'm not really afraid of dying but I'd rather not. I don't have much choice but to keep going. I take my chances with the stranger and type the following words up on the screen:
You're absolutely right. I think we should start over. It's bad enough that we're just words on a screen to each other. A proper introduction might help. I'll even tell you my location. My name is Dekalb. Female, 25, Middle quadrant, third tier.
An uncomfortable pause as I stare at the screen awaiting for the stranger's response. Then the reply scrolled across right underneath mine:
This is Jefferson. Male, 30, Middle quadrant, second tier. Nice to meet you Dekalb.
Hello there, neighbor.
Last night, I had a dream for the first time since the world disappeared around me.
The land had shifted. Mountains turned and swallowed by the sea. Soon, the oceans themselves drained into the sweltering core and took with it all its little creatures. The rumble beneath was felt by those above. It burst through straight up into the atmosphere. Then the earth turned sideways and there we were, clinging on to the edge.
I did the one thing you asked me not to do.
I looked down.
There I saw the rest of them, floating, not falling, into the empty. A breeze picked them up and swirled them around like weightless leaves in autumn. I looked over just as you released your grip. I reached out but it was too late. You joined them in their dance and all I can do is watch you spin and turn and tumble towards the far side. I watched until you were a speck of glitter in the distance, then it was all gone. I pulled myself up the ledge and stood there. At the cusp of the end and nowhere. The angry earth mocked and taunted me for not going when I had the chance.
"Why do you stay?" it asked me.
And I wished I could've answered it. Maybe then it would've let me be. Instead I said nothing and kept on walking.
The rumble beneath was felt by those above.
This would be the first time I'm participating in the #SampleSunday party.
I chose an excerpt from the story "The Faster You Run" from my short story collection Bad Juju: Vol. 1
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or gazelle. When the sun comes up, you'd better be running. - Anonymous
Morris had been running with his old hound dog since before daylight broke through the skies. He looked up and around and gauged it to be late in the afternoon. The temperature dropped slightly which caused his joints to ache just enough to bother him. This wasn't part of his scheduled stop but even his old dog lagged behind and so they took temporary shelter just off the main road to rest their aging bodies, catch their breaths and get their bearings together. He took a swig from the water bottle and poured some into a collapsible bowl and set it down for his canine companion. About 15 minutes of deep breathing and stretching later, they were back on the main road for another hour of steady running. They've covered a tremendous distance since this morning and had slowed down to a walking pace when the old hound started barking the way she would when she'd caught a whiff of a stranger.
"Shhhh, now, Fang! Settle down girl," he grabbed her collar and tugged it enough to distract her. Fang ceased her barking but remained on alert as her master did the same.
He'd already pulled his pistol from his hip holster and had it pointed to the stranger ahead who was barely visible from where they stood. They approached cautiously as they reached midpoint. He saw that it was a man slumped with his back supported by an old rotten tree. His head was down to his chest and arms sprawled to the side. He walked closer, never moving the pistol away from its target. He poked the stranger on the leg with his walking stick.
Once. Twice. Not a movement.
He poked one more time right at his sternum, more forceful this time. The stranger came to, startled. The setting sun lit his face a flash of bright orange as he turned quickly to his side to spew vomit. He crouched, gagged and wiped his face with his sleeve. The stranger staggered up and shielded his face from the brightness. With the pistol still pointed to the stranger's chest, Morris knew that this was a straggler. Past his youthful unshaven face, unkempt hair, he can smell the scent of despair and alcohol. He secured the pistol back into its rightful place and extended his hand towards the straggler.
"Hello, my name is Morris. This here is my hound, Fang. Don't be afraid," he smiled. "I'm here to help."
The straggler scooped a second helping of stew from the pot into his plate. "Man, this shit is real good Milton. Real good."
"It's Morris, and thank you."
Hey, whatcha making there," the straggler asked from the corner of his full mouth and pointed to the wood burning kettle with flames blazing from underneath.
"Preparing water for tomorrow," Morris replied.
"You're taking this shit real serious aintcha? You're a pro at this. I mean, just lookit," the straggler gestured his spoon towards the tent, the fire pit, and the bug out bag.
Morris said nothing as he ate another spoonful then saved the last few bites on his plate for Fang.
The straggler licked his plate clean. "I've met people like you before." He lit a cigarette, took a long drag and offered it to Morris.
Morris refused politely. "People like me?"
"Yeah, runners. You know, people who think there's this magical place to the west that's gonna save and protect them from those things out there. So they keep going, usually traveling with friends, family, or whoever. And they run as fast as they can. Like it's some kinda race that you can win or something. Like in the end there's a ribbon and some fancy people giving out medals. Only it ain't medals. It's the keys to this shiny new fantasy land. Where people live amongst unicorns and gnomes." The straggler gulped down the rest of his water.
"Personally, I'm in it for the cheese at the end of the maze," Morris poured himself another cupful of water.
The straggler chuckled. "That's funny, man." His smile turned into a nervous smirk. "But what if a giant rat's waiting for you instead?"
If you enjoyed the sample, consider purchasing the collection at the following places.
Thank you for your continued support .
It's your friendly neighborhood letter puncher here. Life's been busy. Good, busy.
I've pencilled in a new schedule as of this weekend. Something that will keep me sane in the coming months.
For those of you in my twitter stream and facebook shuffle, you already know that I'm back in school for a second degree. This year is critical because I'm competing to get in a program with very limited seats. So the pressure is on. Good for me that I thrive under pressure.
I've also set up a publishing schedule for 2011 that involves some very exciting projects. No guts, no glory. At this rate, it seems like an impossible task but even if I fall slightly short, I still win. The point is to keep writing and to keep producing.
Good vibes from Bad Juju: Vol 1
As far as Bad Juju: vol. 1, I'm happy with the sales so far. It's been nice to see it crack the top #100 under the Kindle books>horror>short stories category at least 2-3 times that I know of.
I actually took a screenshot of it (because it was such a headrush and made my day). It's exciting to see my book on the same page as King and Gaiman. Two writers I admire very much.
I have some amazing reviews up on Bad Juju as well. Despite a bad experience in which some reviewers that originally signed up haven't bothered to even update me so I've assumed that they have no intentions of ever submitting a review. Not the first time it's happened but screw it. I have no time for bullshit. You can either do it or you don't. All I ask is that you let me know either way. But enough of that.
Big props to those that came through. Thank you!
On to bigger, better things.
Revision for the novel number 1 is underway.
Bad Juju: Vol. 2 - stories are forming, trying to assemble a good balance to complement the first volume.
I also have a secret project I'm working on. It's something that I probably won't reveal until it's ready to hit the shelves. Jus because. You gotta keep things mysterious sometimes.
Photos - I've been taking more daily pics of just random things these days, usually with my phone cam. I'll probably end up posting them at my newly revived Tumblr site called...dun, dun, dunnn...
SCRAPS (notes, clutter bombs, and stimuli)
It's just a place for me to empty out the gray matter. Feel free to follow me there too.
Let's see...what else, I feel like I'm missing something...I'm sure I'll remember it when I hit the "publish" button.
Anyway, a big thank you for those of you who have purchased any of my books, have bookmarked my site, signed up for the list, followed me on wherever social media dive bar I happen to be in.
What about you? What kind of shenanigans have you been up to these days?
Read an e-book week is March 6-12 and during then I want to give people a chance to purchase my latest release of short stories.
So head over to Smashwords and use the coupon code: CS62U
This reduces the price from $2.99 to $1.99
I hope this will encourage people to take a chance on an unknown author.
What people are saying about Bad Juju: Vol. 1
"The scope and style of writing will grab you by the coat tails. A guaranteed fun ride. Perfect for a cold or wet day inside, not so perfect for a short train or car ride as once you start the story, you won't want to stop." - Lee Pletzers
"Endings were unpredictable, just the way I like them. Once I started each short story, I could NOT put the book down until I had finished. Word play was masterful." - M.E. Anders
"R Van Saint has created a collection of stories that will want you coming back for more. Bad Juju is hopefully the first of many from the author (i think there is a second volume on the way). I have read and reread this collection a few times now since picking it up and every time it leaves me smiling." - Barry Skelhorn
Thank you for your continued support and enjoy!
Screenshot of my WIP and my messy dekktop.
Get your grubby fingers off that keyboard and step back. This can't be good for your health. You're all hunched up punching letters, losing sleep, forgetting you were supposed to eat like...five hours ago. And don't even look at that cigarette like that. That's for when you're done writing the book. And remember, you can only have one because you got on this health train a while back. Or have you forgotten that too?
A long walk would do you good. Clear up your mind. Only thing is, the sky's dumping more ice outside, the wind is whipping it around in circles, your face hurts just standing there and your dog would rather be toilet-trained than walk in this jacked up climate. I guess you're out of luck. Perfect. Maybe a short walk will do.
It feels like you spend more time fleshing out your characters than hanging out with your loved ones. You've been stuck at that paragraph for hours now, how about just walking away from all of this?
It's really easy.
Step 1: Store what you've written so far in a flash drive
Step 2: Turn the laptop off
Step 3: Waste your time playing video games instead
But nooooo. You're too obstinate to do that so you'll continue to put those words together because you have a story to tell right? Because you think you can do better? Good. Maybe you can. Maybe you are.
By the way, there aren't any secret tips or tricks you'll find that can get you through this. All your writing buddies can only stand by the sidelines and cheer you on. But they're busy wrestling with their own little writing demons. When it comes right down to it, it's between you and a blank screen. The blinking cursor like a tapping finger fidgeting alone in a vacant space.
I dare you to write something.
Some days it's effortless. You sit down and your hands are cramping from typing too fast, trying to write down that sentence before it disappears from clear view only to be replaced by another one. And another one. And another one. It's nice when that happens. Like a surge of feverish madness in which the puzzle fits just so, no struggle, easy does it.
Then some days it all feels so forced and unnatural. It feels like you're trying to pull a splinter deep from the tip of your finger and it just keeps embedding itself deeper under your skin. Because it does get under your skin.
Maybe not during the outlining phase, or the first couple of chapters but it will get you. It turns into an obsession that overrides all logic consuming you during your waking hours and sometimes even during slumber.
There are nights when the characters refuse to let you sleep. They chatter, whisper, and confess their dirty secrets. Like they're trying to channel themselves through you. Don't fight it because they're not going away until you jot down what they're telling you. Don't silence their voices because you'll be sorry you did. Two things can happen.
1. They can come back screaming and wailing, asking you why you haven't been around.
2. Or they give you what you want. Silence. The voices retreat in their designated hiding spots. You panic because you don't want them to leave you alone for too long for fear of them vanishing altogether. So you come back and knock on their doors. "You wanna come out and play?"
Distraction is the enemy. Its naughty little imps are everywhere setting up traps for you to fall right into. "Over here, just a little bit closer to the edge, almost there, just a few steps more..."
You've come this far, just a few more chapters and you're through. Only then you can say that you've conquered this. Quitting time was 8 chapters ago. It's too late in the game to abandon your post now.
The people that inhabit your story are waiting. Their feet firmly planted where you last left them. What's your next move huh? Who will lead and who will follow. Who are you gonna kill off now? Who's your hero? Who will step up to the challenges that you've set up for them. Who will fall victims to the plot? Who will collapse under pressure and who's going to endure? Which ones will band together and form an alliance? Which ones will turn their backs and betray you?
Imaginary people will haunt you. So let me ask you again...
What's your next move?
Note: Took a break from writing the book to piece this one together. I know I'm slacking with my posts at Apocalypse Hub, my serialized fiction (Degeneration) and my usual bloggery here. Must. Finish. Writing. Book.
I do pop in Twitter/FB in between writing sessions, so I'll see you there. Will get back to semi-permanent schedule in about a week.
Hello everyone. Can you smell that? It's the scent of a fresh new squeaky clean year.
It's time to turn the volume up a notch around here. I'm gonna get down and dirty on getting another collection of short stories out and at least 2 novels this year. At the very least. That's my commitment. If that means less facetime on Twitter/FB and laying off of blogging for a bit, then so be it.
So this is my call to arms. Feed your fiction addiction habit by helping me build an audience.
So here's the story:
I just recently released Bad Juju: Volume 1 which is now available on Smashwords, Amazon US, Amazon UK.
Currently my fiction workload includes writing more stories for the second volume as well as finishing Panic in Year 2020 (The novel).
I need your help.
I'm looking for a few good reviewers to write quality reviews to be posted on Amazon/Smashwords/Blogs/Goodreads to name a few places.
Quality reviews, to me, mean:
More than a couple of sentences. 75-100 words is ideal. Maybe more if you really love doing reviews.
Have the review finished in a timely manner (month or less seems reasonable for this specific book, sooner is even better)
My current book to review is Bad Juju: Vol. 1
If you'd like to help out, use the contact form at the bottom of this post.
(Those of you who have already contacted me prior to this post, no need to use the form, just email me directly) =)
In your email please include your URL for your site/blog where you'll be posting a review.
If you don't have a site, that's fine too. You can post it at Amazon/Smashwords/Goodreads etc.
I can also post the reviews here.
I'll go over details and any questions after you send me the initial email.
What's in it for you?
On top of receiving a review copy, I will also put you on the list to get an advanced reading copy (pdf for review) of my upcoming novel and Bad Juju: Vol. 2 (More on that shortly).
Plus you'll be added to the acknowledgements page of the forthcoming short story collection, Bad Juju: Vol. 2
For the reviewers that have a site, I'll post a link here to your URL when the review goes live. A bit of cross-pollination action.
Pretty sweet deal eh?
Thanks in advance for helping me take my seemingly half-baked ideas and putting them into action.
By the way, if you know of anyone that may be interested in having a go at this just forward this link to them or have them contact me.
Speak to you soon,
Everyone's doing a year in review retrospect kind of post in their blogs. I've got a lot of things rattling about up in this old noggin of mine so here goes...
Where should I start?
It's been a fast, dizzying ride around this obstacle course of a year. You know what it feels like?
It feels like I've dodged some bullets and maneuvered through treacherous roads: falling boulders, sharp turns alongside cliffs (and you know how much I hate heights - It's not so much the actual fall, it's the abrupt stop at the end that gets you).
Had I known the trip was going to resemble a stunt in one of those box-office action-adventure hits of the summer then I would've suited up appropriately, maybe even packed up some provisions.
But life just don't play it that way - no heads up, no memos, no reminders, no forewarning, no tips, not even a friendly reminder to buckle up. Just BOOM! Before you know it, I'm engaged in what seems like a high velocity chase: steering past people, places, and scenarios. THAT'S the kind of pace I've had for most of 2010.
It's always nice to see how far you've gone since the beginning of the year. Where you stumbled. Where you failed. Where you outperformed even your own expectations. If you're gonna do an end-of-year flashback, get the good and the bad in there. It's always good to reflect - a way of tracking your progress, to see where you need to improve on. I'm all for that.
I can honestly say that 2010 has been my most productive year writing. Ever. I've written a lot of short stories, started a couple of novellas/novels (which are still in progress), have a couple more ideas for books/comics/screenplay waiting in the wings, jumped in and messed around with a lot of new media just to get a feel for what works for me and what doesn't. Even started a second site that's closing in on its 100th post.
I've started a lot of things that I didn't follow through on. My reasons for dropping it? It varies, really. It either didn't feel right, took too much of my time to produce, just wasn't fun anymore, or didn't have the potential for profit. So I trashed it.
Too much fucking drama. Just a lot of distractions. Personal and professional. A lot of it was beyond my control. Anybody that knows me well, knows that I despise that kind of thing. Who needs that shit? It goes against my grain.
It was a rocky year but my accomplishments far outweighed anything negative that happened. What about you?
So what now?
Full speed ahead baby!!! I prefer to plan ahead and look forward to things to come. Take steps to get the ball rolling. No resolutions. Those things are bound to get broken, compromised, even forgotten. You know it. I know it. Yet people continue to make 'em.
How about setting goals instead? Start with smaller, actionable, easy to achieve ones that build your confidence so you can crush the larger ones.
Make it a year with less distractions and more focus.
More action and less excuses.
More confidence and less doubt.
More storytelling. More interaction.
Whatever it takes right? Whatever our goals may be. Since this, for the most part, is a site to chronicle my (mis)adventures in writing and making money off it, then I'm primarily addressing all of us who sit alone and spend an unhealthy amount of time sitting on our asses and staring at a screen, punching letters and hoping that the story unfolds the way we see it in our heads.
I've roughly written out an editorial calendar of sorts for my writing. Specific dates for specific works. Looking at it right now looks like an impossible task especially since I'm going back to school. But I work well under pressure. At the end of 2011 even if I come up short with these self-imposed deadlines, I still win.
As with any creative endeavor, it starts out with an idea. Then you break down how to get from point A to point B. Then you just do it.
Here's to 2011.
Let's make more signal and less noise.
Dear reader: If you dig what you've just read please help me build even a wider audience by spreading the word (via Twitter, Facebook, email), leaving a comment and joining my mailing list.
It's a curse. It's always crazy around this time of the year. By this time of the year, I mean the time frame which starts a week before Thanksgiving and concludes a few days after the New Year. Guess what? We're right smack dab in the middle of this dirty little mess. It doesn't matter how low-key you try to keep holiday gatherings. It doesn't reduce the stress factor. Don't ask me. I didn't make the rules up. I just put up with it.
So, the next few days is gonna pose a challenge to your ability as a human being to tolerate as much craziness and still manage to crack a smile for those precious little snapshots.
Rest assured, these are some things you can always rely on:
My holiday survival kit:
A sense of humor
The knowledge that in just a couple of weeks, this too shall pass. Like a tinsel covered bladder stone.
Soon we can stash away the tree and the ornaments. Return gifts. Or maybe even regift. Blame the holidays for the weight gained, for the bills incurred, and so on, so forth. Back to work. Back to school. Back to normal life, right?
Remember, Valentine's day is just around the corner.
From your friendly neighborhood pen monkey.
From Z2R Media - A collection of short stories assembled in Bad Juju: Vol. 1
Includes the stories:
The Secrets of Mothers
The Faster You Run
The Body Vacant
Get your digital copy now
35% off retail price w/ coupon code QK49V (Good until Jan. 1, 2011)
50% off retail price w/ coupon code if you join my email list. (Good until Jan. 1, 2011). You'll get access o it after you sign up of course.
If you're already on the list expect an email from me today or you can go ahead and access the Hooligans Only area to claim your discount.
I've updated the Books section to reflect my current sales.
Additional Holiday Sale:
Get Panic in Year 2020: A zombie story for $0.99 with coupon code ZX88X (Good until Jan. 1, 2011)
Everyone else is having sales, so why not me?
As for deciding price point for this and future collections and releases - it's been probably the toughest thing to decide but as an indie writer I have to experiment w/ what works for me.
My zombie short story is my best seller at a retail price of $1.99 which was basically a lot higher than a lot of the other short stories in the Smashwords market at the time of its release. Yes, it was a gamble but if you're not willing to take a risk as an indie writer then I don't know what to tell you. That set the tone for this current release. I can't very well charge less than that for 7 stories. It just doesn't make any sense right now.
I'm not saying it will stay this way. Nothing is set in stone. I'm not gonna price myself out of people's hands when it comes to my current and future releases especially novella/novel length works. I want as many people as possible to get a hold of my stories but at the same time I'm not going to sell myself short.
I'm a control freak so I gather data on stats, sales, and patterns so this entire thing is one exciting experiment for me. Finding the "sweet spot" is what I'm trying to do. I'll be tweaking prices accordingly based on what I see. Stay tuned.