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.


Now, without further ado. . .


Witch Hunter: Gods and Monsters


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. . .


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 😛


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.


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:



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.

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.

Screen Shot 2018-02-10 at 1.44.20 PMScreen Shot 2018-02-10 at 1.43.51 PMScreen Shot 2018-02-10 at 1.44.44 PM

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


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:

Mind Wreck - full cover - JZ Foster.jpg
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?


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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Eve of Witch Hunter

(This blog was written before releasing Witch Hunter, but is being posted the day after Witch Hunter’s release.)

I sit now on the eve of the release of my first book, Witch Hunter: Into the Outside, and I know that I’m a gambler. My wife and I, in full agreement, uprooted ourselves from South Korea, leaving behind her family and a successful business to travel across the ocean with a newborn baby, a decent savings, and a few books ready to be printed. If not for the great support system (my parents and family members) we would not have been able to accomplish this.

But why, J.Z.? Why roll the dice with a baby and a successful business?! Why try writing when your English academy in Korea was going so well?

Because there’s magic in words. And I mean that. My fingers (and everyone else’s) carry a power to shape worlds and write truth. Each word becomes law, and is so powerful that it can instantly nullify any that came before it.

Read this.

As Tom Harper stared at his reflection in the mirror and adjusted his tie, he knew he wasn’t a bad man. There wasn’t a spec of dust on Tom’s red velvet tie, and likewise, no stain upon his consciousness. He’d never told a lie in his life, or ever hurt a soul. 

No, he’d never hurt anyone. 

Of course, there was Joel Gonzales laid out across Tom Harper’s spotless floor, the old orange extension cord still tightly wrapped around his neck. Joel’s purple face and red bulging eyes were trying to accuse Tom of being a bad man, but he wouldn’t listen.

Nope, Tom was a good man that never hurt a soul, and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in town that felt the old drunkard, Joel, had a soul.

He beamed a tight smile toward the mirror and checked his teeth for bits of lettuce from his sandwich that might have escaped the toothbrush.

I love what words can do. I love that Tom there was a good man because I told you he was. And I love that you have to question his sanity by the fact that I keep telling you he’s a good man.

So that is why my wife and I gambled, because I love words and I think with the proper formations of them, I can shape them into a worthwhile story.

( Witch Hunter on sale now, order here: https://goo.gl/yyw7xD )