Tag Archives: ebooks

The new cover to The Haunting Lessons is haunting.

NEW THL COVER JAN 2015 COMPLETE

If you liked This Plague of Days, you might like this!

Following a terrible tragedy, Tamara Smythe, a girl from Iowa discovers their are phantasms everywhere, watching us and waiting. But ghosts aren’t enemy. The Unseen is much bigger and more dangerous than Tamara imagined. Click it to get it!

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One Big Sneak Peek of the Prelude: This Plague of Days, Season 3

As I work on This Plague of Days, I’m very aware that many readers are waiting (mostly patiently) for me to hurry up and finish the third and final season.

You’ve been generous with your reviews and, gosh darn it, everybody’s so nice! If you’ve read Season One and Two, you know this trip has evolved from Kansas City, Missouri to big weirdness across continents and scary strangeness through the mindscape.

There’s plenty of violence and suspense in this war for the future, plus Latin proverbs. (I know! Crazy and crazed!) My zombie apocalypse continues to evolve. Yes, we’ve had forays into fearful dreams, but the battles to come happen in the our world. I promise plenty of surprises, twists and, best of all, more of Jaimie Spencer’s view of the world. 

How weird and scary is the Apocalypse on the Autistic Spectrum?

You can find out on Wattpad now. (Wattpad is a free fiction sharing platform where you can read all sorts of interesting stuff. Please do check it out.)

At this link, you can read the opening to

Season 3, Episode 1, The Prelude.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S EVEN MORE!

If you’re looking for more free me, I have even more good news. As I write this, you can grab a complimentary download of Murders Among Dead Trees. This creepy short story collection of psychological horror, reeking of “intense violence and bizarre themes” is free to download on March 6 and March 7, 2014 (today and tomorrow, guys!)

Please download Murders Among Dead Trees. If you like it, love it or maybe want to fondle it, don’t hold back on leaving a review. Enjoy! Thank you!


A quick update on This Plague of Days, Season 3

I think if I write a chapter a day for two weeks straight, this revision of This Plague of Days will be done with a new ending. There will be tweaks and another run-through or two, of course, but we’re definitely getting there. Work continues apace.

Oh, and plaguers will be glad to know a romance blooms, old friends return from the tent city and, weirdly, there are a lot of fish in Season 3. (Don’t worry. It works. It’s creepy and disturbing and teetering on the precipice of disgusting, but it works.) We also find out precisely what The Way of Things is.

If I had to characterize the conclusion of TPOD, I’d say it’s blood lust versus altruism. I do not promise a Happily Ever After. I promise a satisfying ending. You were patient, so it doesn’t end with a cliffhanger…not exactly. 🙂

The secret hidden away in TPOD is…still safe.


This Plague Of Days, Episode 4, Season Two is out! (and why I won’t do this again)

Here’s the truth about reviews:

The happy ones make my day. When someone is unhappy, it drains creative energy a bit. Yeah, that’s right. I said it. I’m human. (God, the shame of that statement!)

Sometimes unhappy reviews and low ratings are a result of a misunderstanding. I’m finding that’s certainly true of This Plague of Days. Some readers love it despite it being a serial.  For a few readers, I’ve found that people have mistaken Episode 2 for Season 2. Then they’re mad at me. That sucks. I want the impossible. I want everyone to be happy.

I usually tell them in a review comment (unless they sound crazy), as gently as I can, that if they’ve bought any book in error, they can return it to Amazon for a refund and all’s well. Mistakes happen but I’ll never know if the bruised reader ever read my helpful comment and went, “Oh, okay.”

That’s one of the reasons I won’t be serializing the third season of This Plague of Days. Despite the reader’s mistaken click, I’m still stuck with a one-star review. We’ve labelled the books and I’ve made a point of warning people to click wisely in the sales description, but there is still confusion. It doesn’t happen often, but I truly am sorry when anyone gets confused or disappointed in their purchase. I’m not out to rip anyone off and the stakes are rather low to try that in this business. That would be like going to the trouble of counterfeiting dimes.

 Still, I wish there were an easier delivery system for serials because I love writing in this format. Well…

Actually, there is a better delivery system.

With Amazon serials, readers pay one low price once and episodes are delivered automatically. Personally, I’d worry that your kindle would update automatically and you wouldn’t be aware of the new arrival, but that question is moot. You see, before I launched This Plague of Days, I contacted Amazon’s  serialization department, somewhere in the bowels of the beast. 

Did I, perchance, mention that Episode 4 of Season 2 is now available for fans of serialization? All of 99 cents now.

Did I, perchance, mention that Episode 4 of Season 2 is now available for fans of serialization? All of 99 cents now.

I made my pitch for This Plague of Days. I wanted them to handle it because I knew they could spread the good word far and wide and make it easier on me. I pressed send and promptly…never heard a thing from them. This isn’t nyaa-nyaa-na-nyaa-nyaa. Sales are brisk with TPOD, but being part of Amazon serials would have been a better reader experience.  

I must admit, the guy who hated Season One and then read and reviewed Season Two anyway? Flummoxes me. He hated Season Two almost as much, but that second read…wasn’t that a self-inflicted wound? And the people who declare they hate serials but bought a serial anyway? Gobsmacked me. I guess it’s the downside of the quick one-click buy. To their credit, some people who hate serials put that aside, gave the story a chance and ended up writing nice reviews anyway. That’s actually pretty cool of them.

Most reviews have been awesome and, each day, I get a boost from the vast majority of reviewers who are so encouraging. They dig my word-jazz and want me to keep going. This isn’t an easy thing and if you’ve been reading along in this space, you know why. I appreciate the kind words. I’m a sucker for “Atta-boy! Atta-boy! Go get the ball!”

Anyone who has read any of my books will not be surprised to find I’m conditioned to expect the worst in any situation. Tonight, I got a request to list TPOD Season Two on Nook. For the foreseeable future, I’m sticking with Amazon because that’s where my books sell. (Though Season One is in paperback and Season Two should be in print, too, just in time for Christmas.)

It’s a measure of the depth of my pessimistic worldview that I expected to be be chided for not being on all sales platforms. Instead, the reader kindly replied that she understood, no hard feelings and she’d read Season Two on her computer. You know how it is when you expect Mom to slap you and you get a hug instead? It felt like that. (I’m assuming. All I remember about my childhood was getting chased with a wooden spoon. And Mom smiled when she had me running into a dead end.)

So, in honor of the vocal minority, you win, I’m sorry, I suck, you’re good. Season Three will be one book. No episodes. No 99 cents weekly. Just, bam! Here’s your story. No serialization of Season Three. Hope you love it. By the time most people are reading the third season, that’s a pretty clear signal they’re all in by now, anyway.

I don’t regret serializing Season One, though.

The reason I don’t regret the first serialization is, This Plague of Days would never have taken off if I hadn’t serialized it. Obviously Amazon Serials didn’t have much hope for me as an investment, but it worked out. Those readers who loved Season One but got annoyed (or downright pissed off) because they mistakenly thought the episodes were seasons? They probably wouldn’t have discovered the story they liked (or as cheaply) if I hadn’t launched the book as a serial. They simply would not have seen my signal flare.

Yes, serialization is more expensive to the author and more demanding of the reader. Yes, it’s damned clumsy. But it can also work as a tool of discovery. That’s crucial to get a book noticed in a sea of offerings. Readers think it’s hard to find a book to enjoy? Wow, is it ever hard to write and publish a book and get anyone to give it a chance.

Anyway, I hope you understand the choice. And now, in keeping with my worldview, I shall sit back and await the outraged emails. It’s true, you’ll get a lot less of Kit Foster’s awesome cover art this way.* It’s a no-win sitch, ain’t it?

 

*Oh, and just wait until you see the cover of Episode 5 next week! It’s so creepy! Kit’s a genius!)

A bit of research: The Prepper's Pocket guide, 101 Easy Things You Can Do To Ready Your Home for a Disaster by Bernie Carr.

A bit of research: The Prepper’s Pocket guide, 101 Easy Things You Can Do To Ready Your Home for a Disaster by Bernie Carr.

 


Episode 3 of This Plague of Days looks like this (plus sneak peaks)

First, a thank you

Hi everyone! A few quick things to let you in on!

Season One of This Plague of Days just got its 50th review and I want to thank everyone who took the time to purchase, read and review TPOD! I appreciate every review. Well, let’s be real. I appreciate almost every review. 🙂 Here, I’m talking to the club. You’re probably only reading this if you get my flavor of chocolate neuro-fudge. There are always a few who don’t get it. That’s okay. I wish them well finding something they do enjoy, assuming they have the capacity for joy. (Ooh! That was uncalled for.)

Fifty reviews! Wow! That’s by far the most reviews I’ve had on any of my books. Also, to be real, I got a lump in my throat this morning. To write books that stirs something in people is the most any writer could hope for and I’m sincerely grateful I’ve dug the screwdriver into the pleasure center at the right angle this time.

Soon I’ll return to an office I worked in fourteen years ago.

A friend asked if i was okay with that, given that I closed my practice two years ago so I could write full time. I said yes, I’m okay with that, but only because of of you and the success of This Plague of Days. Without my readers, I’d be going back feeling like a failure. Instead, I’m optimistic. I’m finding my audience and my audience is finding me. If that takes more time, it’s worth the wait.

It’s corny, I know, but you are helping me fulfill the dreams I had when I was six years old. Sincerely, thank you so much for reading my books and digging my sour worldview for entertainment purposes.

Next, so there’s no confusion over Episode 3

If you’re reading Season 2 as a serial, the cover below is what the latest episode looks like.

(Please note, this is Episode 3, NOT Season 3. That comes out next spring.)

I know most people get the difference between episodes and seasons and I’ve been careful to explicate. Still, I know there is some confusion about serialization. If anyone clicks the wrong episode, Amazon is great about returns and refunds. The great thing is, I now notice more readers are letting go of reading episodes and are just clicking on the full seasons.

However you want to eat the chocolate neuro-fudge, it’s warm as blood and waiting. Thanks!

This Plague of Days 2 E3 0918

About the Season One paperback

I’ve had quite  a few requests from folks who want to read This Plague of Days in paperback. I appreciate that and thank you for your patience. I’ve had a bit of a sticky wicket and a bad road in getting the book formatted correctly. However, I think I got past the last road of wickets Sunday morning. I’m waiting for approval from the printer for the paperback of Season One. It’s not available yet, but soon! While you wait, here’s what Season One‘s paperback cover looks like:

Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com is my graphic designer. Nice and talented in one package. If you need a web banner or a cover, check out Kit's work.

Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com is my graphic designer. Nice and talented in one package. If you need a web banner or a cover, check out Kit’s work.

And then there’s this:

Kit’s work doesn’t stop with great book covers. He also supplied me with great artwork for my new business. I’m starting November 4 and just getting things pulled together and sorted out. If you ever wonder why I don’t already have the paperbacks lined up and out there, there’s a distinct lack of interns and staff around here and my family refuses to wear the Oompa Loompa outfits. 

This Plague of Days Seasons One and Two are bestsellers, but no, I’m absolutely not in the plus column yet. I took two years off work to set up Ex Parte Press and I need to supplement my income to take the firm to the next level. I’m not quitting writing. I’m adding enterprises so I can fund book promotion efforts and let the kids have lunches and suppers again. I based this economical measure knowing that, since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, we’d save a lot of cash nixing the other two meals. I’m also playing the lottery wicked hard and I assume that ploy always works out, right?

Here’s my new website and practice, if you’re curious. 

(Unless you live in Other London, it won’t do you a damn bit of good unless I contact you psychically.) 

For other books of suspense, there are more options.

If you liked TPOD, try Murders Among Dead Trees, for instance.

To buy more books by me, check the right sidebar for affiliate links at  AllThatChazz.com. Thanks again!


Q & A for This Plague of Days (PART 4)

Someone asked:

“Why didn’t you put out This Plague of Days in one big book?”

Long answer first. Skip to the end for brevity.

One book wouldn’t have been a sustainable model for me, artistically (or economically). In a publishing world where ebooks are getting shorter, if I’d made it one book, I’d be inundated with complaints it was too long. Can’t please everybody.

Season One is 106,000 words and written like a TV mini-series. (Yeah. On purpose!) I just finished formatting Season One for the paperback edition and it’s 307 pages. I can’t sell a paperback that’s longer than that. Only Stephen King could in this publishing and reading environment (and that may already be too long for paper as is.) I haven’t worked out the numbers yet.

Season Two is closer to 80,000 words. I think this season reads more like an action movie with some very weird twists.

By the end of Season Three, This Plague of Days will be close to 300,000 words in total (at least three times longer than what’s now considered a long book.) 

When I began this serial, I had a certain vision of how it would play out. Buckingham Palace would be taken down. Iceland would be attacked. Stuff would get blown up.  A lot of ships would be involved. Characters would evolve over long arcs and secrets from Season One wouldn’t be revealed until Season Three. 

For those who choose to board my crazy train to the end of the line, there are rewards. A lot of stuff will make more sense in retrospect. It’s so twisted, I may even have several, alternative endings. When it all comes out, you’ll want to reread the whole thing over again. I can’t explain more without giving away too much. Sorry if you don’t like serials, but I was clear from the beginning what it was and what it was going to be.

I’m really looking forward to delivering Season Three next spring.

It’s going to be epic: Epic battles; big reveals; trenchant moments, surprising wins and tragic losses and, ultimately, transformation. There is great potential in each of us. Season Three will prove it.

Thank you so much to all the wonderful readers who have been so kind, gave This Plague of Days a try and see potential in me to deliver a big story that will give great satisfaction to the end of the roller coaster ride.

The short answer is: 

Because that’s where the Art of the thing took me.

Don’t try to limit me. It’s not my choice. The story demanded what it needed for itself.

It had to be this way or not at all.

Related articles


Season Two, Episode One: The Spencers Flee East

The complete first and second seasons are up. Season 2 Episode 1 launches Monday. Click carefully so you get the right ones. Cheers!

The complete first and second seasons are up. Season 2 Episode 1 launches Monday. Click carefully so you get the right ones. Cheers! Or just click this cover to get Episode One if you want the serialization.

 

About the bathtub scene from Season 2, Episode 1: 

There’s something about that scene which reminds me of American Werewolf in London, or maybe some of Stephen King’s work. 

In all post-apocalyptic fiction, the hope for the future must be greater than the horror, no matter how bad things get. I love The Walking Dead, but to be honest, I’m not sure what they’re fighting for. I even said this in Season One and I mean it honestly. We need more than the hope of taking one more breath to sustain us. Sometimes the reason to live doesn’t come from us, but from our children or spouse.

That’s ultimately what the bathtub scene is about. It sets the stakes. As long as her family is alive, Jack knows what she’s fighting for. As Season Two continues, it seems her grasp on hope is tenuous. The lure of the quiet death is something all survivors must consider. When confronted with continuous horrors without hope, suicide is a reasonable choice. At the bathtub, choices are made that give gas to the narrative engine of This Plague Of Days.

I hope you enjoy it.

~ Chazz

 


This Plague of Days Q & A (Part 2)

Somebody asked if This Plague of Days is gory. 

The complete first and second seasons are up. Season 2 Episode 1 launches Monday. Click carefully so you get the right ones. Cheers!

The complete first and second seasons are up. Season 2 Episode 1 launches Monday. Click carefully so you get the right ones. Cheers!

Quite the conunbump, isn’t it? I mean, it can’t be a binary, yes or no answer. It’s a suspenseful story. One of my beta readers told me Season One isn’t horror but Season Two definitely is,  with more supernatural elements. And let’s not forget teaching a bit of Latin, discovering the names of new colors and learning the glabella relaxation trick. It’s a rich tapestry, I say.

Season One is based at the edge of reality but keeps a foot in that door. Season Two straddles the divide somewhat between international military thriller and some dreamy, supernatural scenes. I’m not trying to weasel out of giving an answer, but the reader is the variable, not I. Gee whiz, I tell the truth of one grisly coffin birth and suddenly I’m a monster. The coffin birth in question probably isn’t what you think it is if you’re a reasonably sane person. That’s a bit of (wisely) obscure knowledge.

This is my waffling way of saying that how gory you think it is depends entirely on you. Please read Season Two‘s sample or get Episode 1 on Monday and decide for yourself. Sorry, that’s the best I can do without crawling behind the controls of your brain and pushing all the buttons at once to see what happens.

One or two reviewers have mentioned that TPOD is a bit gory, but it’s not at all Texas Chainsaw Massacre over-the-top. Each act of violence advances the plot. In fact, everything advances the plot, even if I haven’t yet pulled back the curtain and yelled, “See? See? See!” Seeds are buried in Season One that don’t pay off until Season Three.

My kids are a couple of geniuses, although I’m proof emotional maturity doesn’t necessarily come with age. At ages 11 and 14, I’d let my kids read it. They’ve watched The Walking Dead and I hope they’ll read The Stand soon. Is The Stand gory? No. I don’t remember it like that. I loved that one and I purred softly when someone compared TPOD to Stephen King’s masterpiece.

(If you’re reading Season Two, have you gotten to the joke about The Stand yet? Did you laugh? I chuckled when it rose up off the screen. And the buried Highlander joke is kind of a gem, too.)

Ah. So it’s a joke book, but with a hero on the autism spectrum in grim circumstances. Speaking of which…

Somebody else asked why characters at the end of the world act the way they do.

My characters are pretty much like you and anyone you know. Under pressure, you make bad choices. I don’t enjoy stupid characters. They irritate me. Instead, I let smart people make self-interested, short-term choices. Smart people can do dumb things in fiction, if it seems like a smart choice at the time. Or people can act like cowards, jerks and manipulators, just like every other day. It doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Have you seen the news?

When it’s not the end of the world, smart people make sub-optimum choices all the time. They forget to get the chimney checked before winter. They put off paying taxes until the last minute. These sorts of operational deficiencies don’t make a heck of a dent in you besides stress. However, throw a bunch of people in boiling water and some interesting choices will be made that make sense at the time.

People act the way they do because it’s natural for them to do so. We’re emotional animals first. Danger amplifies the problems and complications that ensue. Maybe we’ll act better than my group of characters at the end of the world. But you probably wouldn’t want to read that story. Frankly, cooperation isn’t the way to bet when the danger is as big as it is in This Plague of Days. Also, I have to add, good books have conflict. So there.

Grab the complete Season One  and Season Two now or check out the release of Episode 1 of Season Two on Monday if you prefer to get your fiction as a serial. Either way, I hope you enjoy it. I’m straying off the beaten path and going for what people don’t expect from a book in this genre. That policy will continue in these books and all my books.

Got a question? Hit me up at expartepress@gmail.com.

Have you reviewed This Plague of Days yet?

If you would, that would be awesome and I’d appreciate it. Thank you!

 


Things get paranormal. Or do they? Sentient trees and This Plague of Days

After a great cover design conference with my graphic designer, Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com, I was inspired to tweak a passage from Season Two of This Plague of Days.

There’s a major shift in the story and I wanted to deliver the news in a clever way. In the earlier drafts, the shift was stated a bit too baldly and too “on the nose”. Fortunately, my editor and beta readers suggested I rethink the realization to come. The answer popped into my head this afternoon when I was conspiring with Kit about the cover. What follows is a small slice from a larger hunk of beef, but I was so happy with it, I wanted to share just a little taste of  a sneak peek from This Plague of Days, Season Two:

Jaimie sat up. He awoke in the forest again. Though he’d come to this place many times, this was his first arrival at night. A cold, full moon cast shadows among white birch trunks. In stark beauty, the trees stood out in the darkness, glowing like columns of white marble.

He looked up. In sunlight, a boil of hawks always soared above the forest in slow funnels, circling, watching, waiting. Past the reaching trees, he saw nothing but indifferent stars and the infinite unknown of the chasms amongst their pale fires.

“What has changed?” he called out to the forest.

“Chiroptera.”

By the rules of the Nexus, that which is named becomes real, and so a cloud of shrieking bats crossed the lamp of the moon. Leathery wings beat the air as the colony shattered the moonlight into white strobes. The bats were so large, they cast chaotic shadows on the boy’s upturned face. Jaimie’s mirror eyes reflected scalpel claws and gleaming, tearing teeth.

~ If you aren’t on board already, check out Season One here. Season Two strikes at the end of the month. Buy This Plague of Days, Season 2 for $3.99 in the first week before it rises to $4.99. The story will be released as a series of five episodes at 99 cents each on October 9.

 


Ghost town: A new sneak peek at Season Two of This Plague of Days

His home town, Gas City, had been so named for its once plentiful reserves of natural gas. When that dried up, it was just another small town calling itself a city and on the way to ruin. When Sutr hit, it became a ghost town.

“Ghost town” was figurative, of course. Chris believed in math, not spirits. However, alone in his bed late at night, without lights or the comfort of other people, the floors creaked. The sounds that had terrified him as a little boy scared him anew.

“Water in the pipes,” his mother had told him of the far away hammering. “Just the house settling,” she said of the sound of footsteps on old floorboards at midnight. “Raccoons in the attic,” she said of the sounds of thick, scurrying feet.

Without lights, all the little boy fears returned to the man. Unseen, nocturnal animals trekked through Gas City. When Chris gazed out his windows at night, searching, shadows danced along the edges of his perception. Were those movements tricks of the eye? A cast of moon shadows? Something alive and hungry with a mouthful of jagged teeth?

Dead neighbors’ chimes trembled and sang disjointed songs of abandonment into a careless wind. In what his long-dead mother called “the witching hours”, it was easier to believe a little less in math. Alone at night in a dead town, ghosts were easier to believe in.

After a week of insomnia giving way to a couple of hours of restless sleep, Chris abandoned his house. He filled a backpack with a few necessities and moved into the Marion County Hospital. “No use wasting time and gas on the commute,” he told Deputy Hawkins. But it was the loneliness, the unidentified sounds and the ghost parade that chased him from the little house in Gas City. Working with the Deputy gave him food, water, purpose and people to talk to who weren’t blue and gray and dead.

 


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