Tales to Terrorize!

Hey there peeps! It’s that time of the year that we all love, and you know your dude J.Z. has some great reads stacked up for you!

So sit back and take a look at J.Z.’s recommended TALES TO TERRORIZE for this Halloween Season!

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Try a few of these books for free with Audible by clicking this button!


Tried and True Classics

Books of Blood – Clive Barker

One of the best books I read this year! It’s actually a collection of short stories, and many of them are absolutely terrifying. More than a few have been turned into movies, but each of them will send a shiver down your spine.

Check this collection out!


The Exorcist – William Peter Blatty

We’ve all seen the movie, but this year I took the plunge and actually read the book. I was blown away by how amazing it, and it truly is a horror classic. Don’t feel that just because you’ve seen the movie that can skip out on the novel, you’re doing yourself a disservice! CHECK IT OUT!

…and if anything happens to visit you late at night, tell them J.Z. says hi.

On a side note, I’m told the sequel is excellent too, though I haven’t read it.


The Shining – Stephen King

You know what I was thinking while I was reading The Shining? Wow! It would be awesome to work in a hotel while writing! I mean, yeah, there’s ghosts and all, but it’d be sweet!

It would be though.

This might not be my favorite King novel, but it’s hard to find a more chilling one—and if you’re not aware, a sequel was recently published (Doctor Sleep) that stars some of the characters from this novel, so this is the perfect time to read (or reread?) this classic!


Modern Haunts

The Wicked Ones – J.Z. Foster

What? You thought you could get through a list of my recommendations without getting at least one of my books on it?

Think again!

The Wicked Ones is, in my opinion, my most horror oriented book, and perfect for the season. It stars a cast of characters hunting monsters called changelings, things that slip into houses at night to steal children.

It’s a story of trying your best to hunt monsters while not becoming one.

Tamer Animals – Justin M. Woodward

It was just a camping trip.

That’s the tagline for Tamer Animals, and to tell you much more would be to give too much away. I will say this is for those with a strong stomach and for a love of a bloody good read—and it is a bloody good read!

Written by one of my good buddies, Justin M. Woodward.


Bird Box – Josh Malerman

Josh Malerman is one of the rising stars of Horror, and this book will soon be a movie on Netflix staring Sandra Bullock, so now is your chance to jump on it!

Everything gone upside down. Creatures now roam the world, and if you see them, you’ll go insane. The only course of action is to bar your doors and blindfold yourself when going outside.

This is definitely a fresh book take on the apocalypse!

Demon King – Erik Henry Vick

A book that is drawing constant comparisons with IT from an author that’s said to write like Stephen King—Demon King was a fun read.

Following characters throughout the ages and watching them deal with demons throughout their town, it makes for a compelling read. It’s also won several awards lately and even become a Dark Fantasy best seller!

Don’t miss out on this one!


Horrors for your children

 

Through the Woods – Emily Carroll

Wow, I love this book! I read it with my students and they all loved it, but let me say… Even without kids, it’s still a great read!

It’s a book of short stories that are all drawn to be exceedingly creepy and thought provoking. If you have a child that loves being creeped out, or if you’re a fan of comic horror, I highly recommend it!

Haunted Ohio – Chris Woodyard

I read these stories back in Elementary school, and while they weren’t as scary as other books aimed for children, they did do the trick!

Perfect for kids that like scary stories and live right here in Ohio!

 

Scary Stories to tell in the Dark – Alvin Schwartz

Okay, these are the real scary stories for children. Only buy these if your kids REALLY like scary stories! These are especially creepy and a movie is coming out soon!

Little J.Z. read these in his elementary and middle school years and loved them! I hope your kids love them too!

 


Well there you have it folks, that’s your required reading! Let me know if you’ve read any in the comments and which you agree with, or which you don’t!

If you think I’ve missed any, let me know that too!

Interview with Justin M. Woodward

unnamed.jpgFolks, I’m here today with my buddy Justin M. Woodward. He’s that dude in the picture. You see him, right? If you’re seeing a picture that’s in color, it’s probably because you’re somewhere off the window and you’re not looking at the black and white picture directly next to this text. Got it now?

Good.

So read below and learn a little bit about Justin M. Woodward!

JZ: So, Justin M. Woodward, we meet again. Not as friend or foe, but as interviewer and interviewee. But the only question is who is who?

Justin: Maybe we can let the readers decide that?

JZ: Oh snap. Well, let’s get to it then, all right? Justin, I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing your coming book, Tamer Animals, but you’ve also just released another book, Candy. Care to tell us a little about both?

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Releasing June 15th

Justin: Of course. Tamer Animals is the second book I wrote. I started working on it pretty much immediately after finishing my first novel, The Variant. Tamer Animals follows a group of teens who go camping near the Coheelee Creek covered bridge, a place that is said to be haunted by ghosts. But what the boys find in those woods is much more sinister. Tamer Animals was picked up by Bloodshot Books in the fall of 2017 with a mid to late 2018 release date. Since I had already talked up the book so much, my regular readers were ready for it right then, so I posted a poll in the group my fans made for me, Justin M. Woodward Fan Club. I asked if there would be any interest in a serial story (I wanted to give my fans something to keep them interested in my writing, I wanted to stay relevant) and there was interest, so Candy was born. I didn’t have any idea where the story of Candy would go, and I released the first chapter only two days after the initial post about a serial story. I knew I wanted to do a punchy neo-noir comedy style story. Something fun, crazy, bloody, and unpredictable. I think I succeeded.

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Find Candy Here

JZ: You wrote Candy in a very non-traditional way to go about it. Care to talk about the experience?

Justin: I really wanted to stay in front of my readers. I was thinking about how some writers will go two, three years between releases, and while that may work out fine for big-time authors, I can’t afford to be “forgotten” like that. I’m extremely interactive with my fans, and I wanted to create an experience that we could all go through together. I released Candy on Wattpad, one chapter every Saturday, until the story was done.
I found this way of writing interesting because I was forced to write whether I felt like it or not, I promised my readers a chapter a week, and that’s what I did. And it worked wonderfully. I asked my readers questions. I asked their opinions. Once, when I hit a wall, I asked my most helpful reader and critic, Judy, to give me a completely random word to work with. She said “yo-yo.” Readers of Candy will know the importance of that word in the story. This is why Candy is so special to me. She is a part of me, and I feel like she may be a part of my readers, too.

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Find Justin’s Other Books Here

JZ: Your books The Variant, Candy, and Tamer Animals are all three very different books. What drew you to write in three different genres?

Justin: What draws other authors not to write in different genres? Seriously though, I never saw myself as a “horror writer” or any other particular label. I wrote The Variant with no intention of it being any certain type of genre. I just started putting words on paper, as usual. When I began writing Tamer Animals, I was making a statement which just happened to fit well into the horror genre, so I went all-in and made it full-fledged horror. And with Candy, I really just wanted to have something quirky, smart, and fun. I understand the importance of being a consistent genre writer, but to this point, I have no plans of locking into one field.

JZ: Who are your favorite writers and why?

Justin: I was thinking about this question yesterday. I honestly couldn’t pick a top three or a top five, or even ten, because it’s ever-changing. I would have to say that Chuck Palahniuk is very important to me. He is my number-one source of inspiration for all three books I’ve written so far. His style intrigued me so much in my teens that I couldn’t get enough of it. I devoured his works and I really attribute him pretty highly to my being a writer.
Stephen King, of course, is brilliant, and I can’t imagine what the world would be like without his stories, honestly. I could say more, but everyone knows about Uncle Steve.
And Neil Gaiman is one who I’ve really grown to love in my late twenties, with The Graveyard Book being my favorite by far. I would have to say that Neil is my biggest inspiration for the novella I’m writing now, which is tentatively titled A Boy Brushed Red (you heard it here first).

JZ: Well we have two books dropping from you in two months, but that’s certainly not enough to sate the Justin M. Woodward fan club I’m sure. What’s next in line?

Justin: I’ve been working on an all-ages urban fantasy novella for a publisher who I can’t name just yet. Hopefully I can say more on that soon. I’m also about 40% done with my first short story collection. Which, in contrast to the aforementioned novella, is my darkest work yet, by far. Just wait until you read Taking up Carpentry.

JZ: Okay, now onto the most important question, basically all that other crap was just warm up, all right? What inspires you?

Justin: Go to hell, J.Z. Just kidding, mostly. Well, my son Nathan was the driving force behind The Variant. 100% no doubt about that. In general, I’m inspired heavily by music, mainly the feeling of a certain song, or a title. Take my short story on Wattpad, Smile Like You Mean It, for example. The Killers’ song about love has such a creepy vibe to it, that every time I would hear it, the chorus of “Smile like you mean it” followed by the trippy, space-synth just evoked a feeling in me. Something sparked in my imagination, and suddenly, Brandon Flowers wasn’t asking, he was demanding. A lot of my stories are based on song titles, and I think a lot of writers do that.
Thanks for having me!

 


 

That’s a wrap folks, click HERE to check out Candy!

You can find Justin M. Woodward here on the following places:

Facebook:

Facebook.com/JustinMWoodwardFiction

Twitter:
@justinmwoodward
Send him a message and let him know if you liked the book!

Witch Hunter: Gods and Monsters (Prologue Preview)

Well hello again peeps, been a lot of blogs lately, right?

“JZ, ain’tchu supposed to be writing us a new book? What the heck is this blog’n crap?!”

Come on guys, cut me some slack! I am writing you a new book! In fact, I’m going to prove it to you with this short preview below.

So here it is, peeps, the prologue for Witch Hunter: Gods and Monsters. Now keep in mind that this is before it’s gone to the editor and before I’ve finished the book, that means this is all subject to change. I’d suspect only minor adjustments, or I wouldn’t put it up here though!

Before we begin, here’s a cool picture of the wight, because I know you guys all love that eternally hungry dude.

wight

Now, without further ado. . .

 


Witch Hunter: Gods and Monsters

Prologue

The gutter witch ran for his life, his twenty-dollar pair of Walmart sneakers pounding the cement and splashing up the pooled rain. Cold air chilled his lungs as he looked to either side of the street, eyeing the crowds and wiping the rain from his eyes. He could see the faces trying to blend in, like zebras using their stripes to hide in the herds, but he knew better. But these people weren’t like that. . .

They were dangerous.

They could be old women or even children, a girl smiling at you from across the counter as she slid you your coffee, or the man on the bus, swiping through his phone while pretending not to look at you. These people were moving, they would glance up to look at him and then away, hoping not to rouse him, but he knew they were watching, their hands inside their coats now, fingers locked around handles and gripping steel.

It was hard to see them in the rain. So many faces there in the herd, so many stripes for them to shuffle in and out of. It was hard to see which ones were the bad ones. That is, of course, unless it was all of them.

All of them at once.

A boy was coming now, no older than fourteen. They were getting younger these days. A small patch of hair that could be mistaken for dirt grew on his chin, but that was a lie. A ruse to throw you off and make you think less of him. Make you expect less of him.

The gutter witch stuck his hand into his pocket, his thumb rubbing over the click-click-click latch of his box cutter, letting the blade peek out just as the boy came closer, looking at him now. Curly black hair reminded the gutter witch of something and made him hesitate. The boy reached into his pocket even as he got closer, but the gutter witch froze.

And then the boy walked passed, pulling a set of headphones out of his pocket and unwinding them, plugging them in and—

The gutter witch squeezed his eyes shut, his hands beginning to tremble inside his pockets as he slid the cutter back into its sleeve.

Oh God, I could have killed him! Get hold of yourself or you’re dead! Where am I going? Where?

“Oh shit. . .” The gutter witch’s hand trembled as he pulled out the box cutter. He watched it shake in his hand before he dropped it down a storm drain, listening to it clatter and fall before he turned away. He pulled his red hood up over his head and glanced across the street. He needed a place, somewhere to clear his mind, somewhere to think. Even with his hood up, the freezing rain blew into his face. He was cold, too cold. But that wasn’t just it. It’d been a long time since he’d gotten his fix.

Too long. . .

The gutter witch’s fingers jittered, a junkie’s need for a craving. But there was no time for that. An itch on his nose made the dry spots start to crack and bleed.

Well, maybe there’s a little time. . .

Didn’t he need focus? Sliding a hand beneath his hood, he rubbed his face. This was a bad idea, he knew it even as he faded off the street and into an alleyway, knew it even as his thumb and two forefingers began to work and with one part of his mind telling him it was bad, the other told him how much he needed it.

Cut off that craving, get your head straight, then get moving.

With bandaged fingers blistered and burned from reaching too deep into other sides of reality, he rubbed them in front of his lips as he blew on them, his mind forming on symbols of power. Demonic names and beings he knew to be chained to this world.

Somewhere in some distant cave beneath a massive mountain, an unnatural being, imprisoned inside, screamed as its name was brought to service and power was stolen from it and sent to another—a junkie looking for a fix.

Now here in Chicago, a cold spot from another world opened like a pocket bubble in the air, small enough to dip your nose or finger in, that’s all the gutter witch needed. Any more could be dangerous, any more would be too much of a risk.

Any more and you might fall in.

Sounds of jittering madness came crawling from the side of the horrible things that lived in that world. Things that had no earthly dimensions, eyes as large as men and mouths that could swallow houses, breathing out noxious gasses that if you got just the right amount of . . .

It takes the edge off.

He filled his lungs and knew instantly he’d done badly. The skin peeled back on the edges of his nose, turning to blisters that bubbled up small, puffy and white.

That one hurt.

The high sent him stumbling back like a punch-drunk prize fighter with too much on the line to lay down. He reached one hand out until he found a wall and leaned over. After three hacking coughs, his stomach reached all the way back for the morning breakfast and sent it up the pipe. Scrambled eggs and bacon tasted much more like battery acid and dog shit now that it was flying up.

“Oh fu—!” he managed between desperate breaths, surprised at how much could possibly come. He hadn’t even had lunch or dinner, a common routine among junkies, even gutter witch junkies. Was that yesterday’s food now too? It might be.

That looks like a kidney. . .

It was coming up green now. Stomach acid. That burned his throat and toppled him, making his knees buckle and drop onto the wet pavement and into his puke. He weakly pushed to get out of it.

Stupid, so stupid. Why the hell did you need to—

“Well, you’ve certainly seen better days, haven’t you, Leo?”

“Oh shit!” Finding a new well of strength within the fear, the gutter witch fought to his feet, momentarily slipping on the wet pavement. He shot his head around, trying to find the source of the voice, but now there were no people, no crowds moving at either end of the alleyways.

He was alone.

He shouldn’t be here. He can’t be here!

Wiping off his chin, the gutter witch pushed off the wall and turned to walk again.

“Going so soon?” the voice said, as if whispering in his ear. But it wasn’t a whisper. Somehow each word became a centipede with tiny scratchy legs that crawled all the way down his ear and into his bones. “But you look so terrible.”

The gutter witch twisted around but still couldn’t see anything. With a huff he attempted to run, but staggered and slammed his shoulder into a wall. Blood dripped down his nose and onto his lips. He could taste it on his tongue, salty, diseased and thick. He spat out a chunk of it on the ground, and it seemed to move and quake like jelly.

“Wait—wait—wait! Not yet! Not yet!” the gutter witch said, but there was still nothing around to answer, so nothing did. There was only silence. This was part of the game.

Just part of the fun.

His damn knees were too weak to run, and he knew what would happen next, but he couldn’t just lay here, he had to get up.

Stand up!

He lumbered to his feet and staggered down the alleyway, his arm nearly clipped a dumpster but he grabbed the edge and it helped pull himself forward as he started to run.

Just as his knees started to comply, the alleyway decided to go insane. It stretched before him, bricks forming in-between, to play a joke on him. “No!” He pushed harder as the mouth of the alleyway went further away, a cruel joke that laughed in silence.

“Yes,” said a voice behind him.

The gutter witch turned around and was immediately thrown against the wall. There stood a man, a man he recognized.

No. Not a man. A god.

The rain dared not touch him­­—it dripped all around him, afraid to sully his finely tailored white suit or spatter his olive skin.

“You mortals,” the god said, his voice now a boom inside the gutter witch’s head. “You always run, like there’s a place to go from here to there that we cannot find you.” Each step he took seemed to choke the gutter witch and press him harder against the alley wall.

“Februus. . .” The gutter witch said. “I—I—I.”

“Leo.” The god’s unblinking eyes burned with light. “Let me ask you something. Do you think the alleyway was actually stretching? Was I really out here reshaping reality, rebuilding this entire street corner just for you? Or was I in your head, reshaping your thoughts and rewriting your truth to suit my needs? Was I telling you what I wanted you to see? Which one do you think is worse? Me out here?” He waved a hand between them. “Or me in here?” He painfully tapped Leo’s forehead.

More blood began to ooze from the gutter witch’s nose and mouth, chunks sputtering with each breath. “I—I—I.” Leo caught on the word and couldn’t continue.

“You know how I detest stuttering. It’s over, there’s nothing else to be said. It’s time for you to give yourself up like a man. Give in with a little dignity, like a true sorcerer, don’t you think?” The god held out his hand, and a mouth fanned, racks of teeth opened inside his palm, hissing with rows of crooked wet fangs. A snaking wet tongue uncoiled, reaching from the bottomless black pit inside the god’s palm.

“But—but—but.” The gutter witch stopped and took a breath, taking a moment to wipe the chunks of blood off his lips. “I th—think there’s something I can give you. That you’d want.”

“There’s nothing you have that I want,” the god said.

“Just—just one minute. You’ve always been gracious. You’ve always been kind,” the gutter witch pleaded, and grinned as wide as he could.

The god watched the gutter witch with skeptical eyes, but the hissing mouth on his palm slowly closed, groaning with disappointment. “Now what on God’s green earth does an infested, damaged goods junkie like you think he could offer me at a moment like this?”

Get hold of yourself. Right now or it’s your soul.

Leo clamped down on the fear swirling inside his chest and clenched his hands inside his pockets. When he pulled them out he had his phone.

The gutter witch smiled, careless to how the blood and rain leaked between his teeth.

“There’s a guy. . .” Leo held up his phone and showed an article to the god. “You’re going to want to read this.”

The title read Witch Hunter: Into the Outside, by Beth Sanders.


Well there you have it. What kind of shenanigans has Richard been dragged into this time? WHAT INDEED?

Perhaps you’re a new comer to Witch Hunter and haven’t read the first one, well you’re in luck because you can find it HERE!

How’d you guys like this preview? What’d you think? Does a junkie gutter witch interest you? Does anyone know who Februus is? Did this preview get you excited? Let me know in the comments below!

Last but not least. . .

SPECIAL THANKS TO MARCIE ROBINSON!

She might be super embarrassed after reading this, but it was absolutely necessary Marcie!

There was really no way around it.

She proofread this for me to make sure I didn’t make any silly mistakes, and oh boy, there were a few!

So thanks Marcie!

The Importance of Cover Art

The Importance of Cover Art

A Beginner’s Guide to Self-Publishing

Boom. I wanted to smack you in the face with that title right out of the bat. Those of you who are just readers might want to skip this blog, but as I said before, I get a lot of questions from other writers about self publishing, so I decided to write a few blogs on the process.

This is all, of course, just my experience with self-pub, and yours may will be different.

That all said, I’m quite busy these days and may gloss over or skip details on accident. If you have any questions, please post them in the comments below rather than sending them to me directly. That way others can see them and benefit from the answers too! It’s not that I mind talking with people (I truly don’t!) but I’ve benefited a lot from other authors and so I want to share the wealth. Fair warning though, a lot of the time your questions might get an answer of, “Uhh, not sure…?” because I am still in my first year of publishing.

Last thing before I kick this beast off… I did a quick proofread over this, but I know I’m a horrendous typo machine and often overlook things. Please forgive me! That’s why I pay an editor for my books 😛

Now…

The Importance of Cover Art

A Beginner’s Guide to Self-Publishing

 

Went ahead and put the title up again. Figured, why not?

I’m going to be mean here. I’m sorry guys, but you need your medicine.

One of the most unfortunate mistakes I see new authors make is how little attention they put toward their covers. I see way too many covers where someone went out and took a picture of a tree and then put a black and white filter over it, and then they think that is a great depiction of their book. Maybe it is, I don’t know, but I doubt anyone is going to be interested. Later when I see that the book has 0 reviews or 1 or 2 clearly from a family member, I know I was right.

I’m sorry, but it makes your book look lazy. People think its lazy and that if you invested so little time into the cover, you must have also invested very little time and effort into the story. I’m just being brutally honest here for your benefit.

I’ve talked with a few of these people, I’m friends with a few of these people. I’ve politely tried to steer them away from the black and white tree and almost always their response is, “Well I asked my friends and they all told me it’s good!”

I’m sorry, but your friends are liars.

While we’re on that note, your friends and family really aren’t the best people to ask for advice on this kind of stuff because they’re (rightfully or wrongfully) worried about your feelings. This isn’t just for covers, but for anything, plot direction, story synopsis—anything related to your book. The people closest to you—who will be worried about your feelings—are not the people to ask if you want a serious answer.

You guys can’t see this right now, but I’m shrugging. It’s another tough part of the business but I won’t lie to people when they ask me my opinion, though I also don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. When someone asks me if I like their black and white tree cover, I try as nicely as possible to tell them that I think they should reconsider, and I think it’s strange that people become defensive. I don’t want to hurt anyone, truly, I want to be a nice guy, but it’s not doing YOU any favors for me to be more concerned about your feelings than giving you an honest answer.

How much time did you put into your book? How many hours? How much sweat? Why do you want to put it out with a subpar cover? Honestly, you might have wrote an amazing novel, but if your cover sucks, no one is going to read it. That’s what I’m concerned about. That’s what I truly care about, and that’s more important than hurting your feelings about a cover.

Now on the flip side of that, if you have an amazing cover, there’s a good chance people are going to give you a chance based solely on that.

“Don’t ever judge a book by its cover!” – a person who doesn’t understand people.

Now maybe I’m wrong and you’re just publishing your book as a hobby. If you’re doing that, and you’re content with your black and white tree cover, then that’s perfect and I’m happy if you’re happy.

But.

If you’re trying to do this as business and you don’t have some great skill in art, then you need to hire a professional. Not going to lie to you, it isn’t cheap, but there’s no way around it. If you want to put out a quality book, you have to pay for a quality artist, that’s where a guy like this comes in:

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francois-art.com

 

See this hunky French Canadian here? He’s my own personal cover artist. He’s done my last two covers (and one secret yet revealed!) and I’m sure he’ll do many more.

You need a professional artist. Now don’t get confused and think that’s all you need, but that’s just the first thing you need, because that’s the first thing the reader sees outside of maybe the title. A crap cover makes it look like low quality work.

There are a lot of places to find good artist. I’m going to be fully transparent here and say that I only really have experience with François. I don’t want to lead anyone astray by point down any narrow paths or dark alleyways and telling you to go there, so I’m just going to talk about the process I know, which is the one I’ve done with François. If you happen to come across another artist, I’m sure what you need to do is see their other work, check their prices (a good artist should be anywhere between $200 – $400 depending on quality, complexity and demand) and build a relationship with that artist. Make sure they’re giving you what you want and that you’re happy with what you’re receiving, but you’re also not being a jerk.

That said, I’m going to walk you through the process of how François and I chose my most recent cover, Mind Wreck: Shadow Games (now on sale for $.99!).

I gave that hunky Canadian (and sorry ladies, he’s taken) my book and he read it over. After that, he pitched me three designs.

I’m absolutely happy for this because I had no ideas. I’m a good writer, but I’m not a good artist. If it was up to me, we’d have some kind of Monster Potato up on the cover.

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It’s not too bad, right?

I had some very vague ideas of what I thought might be cool, but they weren’t close to what François pitched me.

He read the book and sent me three images that were inspired from the book.

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I picked the one on the left! Let me know in the comments if you agree! No book spoilers though!

Wow.

This dude nailed it. A lot of you haven’t read Mind Wreck yet (It’s on sale! Did I say that?) but François really captured it in all three of those images. So, that put me into a dilemma where I immediately began cursing his name.

“DAMN YOU FRANÇOIS! Couldn’t you have at least made one of these terrible?!” But that’s the problem with that dude, he never makes it easy. He never does…

So, I had to pick one. I chose the one on the far left. That shifty little cat with the crazy shadow. What the hell is going on with that dude? WHAT INDEED.

So here is the final cover:

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Find Mind Wreck Here

Now people who see this book have told me they really want to read it based on this cover. After they read it they tell me they really liked the book, but I’m sure it was the cover that hooked the fish. It wasn’t my blurb on the back (though that might have been what sealed the deal, and we can talk about that in another blog), but the cover is what snatches the eye and gets the ball rolling.

Now, here are some final tidbits that you should know when dealing with a cover artist.

  • If there are important details that you must have on a cover, make that crystal clear to the artist before the project begins. Don’t expect it in a revision afterward.
  • An artist should be willing to give you revisions. Unless an artist is working super cheap, you should only hire one that agrees to give you revisions, and that’s something that should be agreed to before hand.
  • Never pay full price up front. All artist have their own kind of payment system, but it should be something like 50% in the beginning and 50% in the end.
  • While we’re talking money, if you’re paying several hundred dollars, the artist should read the book. If you’re paying $200+ a synopsis is probably not enough for the artist to form a good enough enough of an idea to compose a truly unique cover.
  • Do pay the artist. For as many authors that get screwed, there are artist that also get screwed. Don’t be a jerk, and don’t be unreasonable with your revisions, you can’t expect someone to paint you a Mona Lisa for a few hundred dollars.
  • Don’t let your feelings get hurt if you hear an artist did a different price for a different person. Some covers come with more or less complexity than other covers. I’ve been in a few groups where I saw people talking and getting pissed when they found out one person paid more/less than another. That’s ridiculous. Negotiate a price you’re comfortable with. Don’t worry about what the artist is charging other people, does the artist tell you how much to charge for your books?

PAY CLOSE ATTENTION HERE

I was going to make this a bullet point, but it’s not exactly common knowledge, and it REALLY needs to be noticed. Amazon algorithms will really hamper books that have covers with certain ‘offensive‘ imagery. I’m not making this up as it happened to me.

It also completely stops you from running ads on Amazon if they deem your cover ‘offensive‘.

Offensive imagery included, but not limited to:

  • Guns / knives
  • People or Animals in distress
  • Blood
  • Drug use
  • ETC

(If you want to read more about Amazon ad cover policy follow THIS link.)

My cover for The Wicked Ones was deemed offensive for ‘People or Animals in distress’. That was actually NOT the case, so I was able to get it overturned, but for a while there I was in a panic thinking the great beast of Amazon had turned on me. So be careful! If you walk blindly into a cover and get something overly violent, or something with drug use… You might tank your book before it even has a chance to take off! A lot of cover artist aren’t even aware of this as they aren’t in the business of selling books, they’re only there to make the cover. It’s up to YOU to make sure that none of these ‘offensive‘ things are included on accident.

 

So the moral of the story here is if you want to make your career happen, invest in a great cover that catches the eye. I briefly thought about showing some terrible covers here for comparison, but that’d just be mean, so I’ll show off some of my favorite of François’s covers, you let me know if you think they draw you in and make you more interested in reading one of the books. Tell me your favorites below!

Hope this blog helps!

 

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Sales, Giveaways and an Update!

Well hello there, how are you doing?

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Been a while, hasn’t it?

I’ve been quite busy, you see, a little tale of woe and dread and quite a few jokes of a wight making strange observations has been rolling around my head.

So my fingers have been-a-burn’n but not so much on my blog, but more so on my newest novel.

Still though! I wanted to pop in here and give you all an update!

Witch Hunter: Gods and Monsters is well underway and I’m pleased with what I have so far. After that, The Wicked Ones: Eat the Dead will be soon to follow. And then, I don’t know, I guess there’s another Mind Wreck rolling around in my head…

“Oh, JZ! This sounds like you have an actual plan! Like you designed this or something!”

Yeah, it kind of does, doesn’t it?

And with this blog, I don’t only want to talk about my books…

You see, everyday I get a lot of lovely messages about people asking me questions about my books or telling me how much they like my books (and I appreciate that!) but I also get a lot of questions on the mechanics of writing and self-publishing. Now I’ll be the first to admit, I’m certainly no genius and I definitely have a lot still to learn, but I do think I have a few tips that would be helpful to people that are interested in knowing.

So, I am going to write a few blogs here and there just on how to self-publish, hopefully helping people so they don’t make the same mistakes I did… and instead make entirely new ones, because that’s just how this game works!

ALL THAT SAID!

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The Wicked Ones: Children of the Lost will be free from April 18th – April 22nd, so if you’re a horror fan give it a try, or nudge one of your friends!

Find The Wicked Ones Here

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Mind Wreck: Shadow Games will be $.99 from April 19th – April 26h, at that price, why not give it a chance?! Let me know what you think about it, and as always PLEASE REVIEW!

Find Mind Wreck Here

Oh, one last thing! Going to be giving this bad boy away after The Wicked Ones Giveaway, keep your eyes on my facebook for details!

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Leave a comment below and let me know what you think, or just tell me if you think my face looks stupid. I mean, I’ll probably punch you in the nose if I ever see you, but at least there’s something there, right?

That’s all for now, let’s talk again soon!