Posts Tagged ‘writing’

 

Alright, so I may be posting this a little late in order to promote the book signing, but the whole thing kind of just materialized out of nowhere anyways.

So, October totally snuck up on me this year.

I knew it was October. I knew Halloween was coming, because me and my daughter have been planning on being Darth Vader and Princess Leia for the longest time now. But the fact that it was October and that it’s been 4 years since I first released A New Death into the wilds of the internet, that completely slipped my mind.

4 years.

Isn’t it crazy how time just flies by?

4 years ago and I just had this silly idea of self-publishing a zombie e-book amongst a sea of zombie e-books.

Silly, silly Joshua.

Anyways, as I often do, I got somewhat reflective and nostalgic about the past 4 years. My cousin played a small part in it as well, as he is in the process of writing his first novel and asked me a few questions the other day.

Which led to the above video.

I recorded this the day before the book signing, so my apologies for not telling you sooner.

But you can still listen in on the five (now six) things I wish I knew before I published my first novel. These are completely subjective and were really the first things that came to mind when I asked myself the question of what would I have done differently.

1. I wish I would have taken it a little slower at the beginning.

I remember finishing the first draft and the sense of relief and accomplishment I felt. I also remember feeling the impending doom of “Okay, now what?” I knew there was editing, formatting for Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook, and promoting to be done, but how? When? But mostly, how? I had no idea what I was doing and just kind of kept putting one foot out in front of the other, hoping that there would be ground underneath, sighing a breath of relief whenever there was.

So, the whole publishing process went fast, maybe too fast. Looking back on it now, I wish I had slowed down and stopped to think about where I was heading with this whole author/publisher thing, but looking back on it now, I’m just reminded of a clip from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Night:

 

2. I would have launched the books differently. (read: better)

When I first released A New Death, I launched it just as an e-book. That was the extent of what I planned on doing, as I had no idea that printing options were available. Again, see above gif. So I launched A New Death in the Amazon Kindle ecosystem and into the cold, shallow waters of the Nook. I spent more time with the Kindle, as it was A.) more user friendly and B.) the more popular of the two.

Knowing what I know now, I would have liked to publish both the e-book and the paperback at the same time, so if you’re still waiting for A New Daybreak, know that you’re going to have to wait for me to finish both now. (Sorry.)

 

3. I would have liked to finish the trilogy before I published them.

Okay, so this one is debatable. And it comes solely from the perspective of me trying to sell and market my books. (Spoilers: I like getting paid for my work.) But my thinking behind this point is this:

People are more apt to dive into a series that they know they can finish and not wait on the author to finish writing them. (Looking at you George R. R. Martin…)

Again, I’m still personally up in the air about this one, but hey, there it is.

 

4. I wouldn’t have wasted time on e-readers other than the Amazon Kindle.

Remember when I mentioned the Barnes & Noble Nook earlier?

I think I can count on both my hands how many copies I sold on that thing. (That’s less than ten for all my fellow public school kids.)

And the Kobo? Aww jeez, Rick.

Amazon is the Pickle Rick of the e-reader world.

 

5. I would have spent more time on the print books.

When I first started, print wasn’t even on the radar. I thought that was only something you could get from an actual publisher or one of those vanity publishers, which I knew to stay well clear of.

But there was Amazon, goading me onwards, deeper into the jungles of the self-publishing world.

“Hey, you’ve done e-books with us. Have you met our friend CreateSpace?”

“Why, no Amazon, I haven’t. Nice to meet you, CreateSpace.”

It was something like that, I think. It gets kinda fuzzy after a few years.

Anyways, the paperback versions of my books have been great for making small waves here in Savannah. I’ve been able to do book signings and get my books into some cool local shops, something I would never be able to do with an e-book. This all goes back to me slowing down in the beginning and actually doing some research into self-publishing outside of e-books.

 

6. I would have treated this more like a job.

There was a shift somewhere, where this stopped being “just some cool thing I could do” and turned into “Man, I would really like to do this for the rest of my life.” I’m not 100% sure when that happened; I think maybe in between CJ’s Story and A New Darkness, or maybe it was there somewhere all along.

I knew eventually though, that I should have been treating it more professionally and more like a job, but still, for some reason I just wasn’t all in. I don’t know.

But I do know now, that I’m stuck in between the rock and hard place of: having a good, well-paying, providing job that sucks the life out of me everyday, but I do it because I love my family and want to take care of them OR this author job, which grants me fulfillment and I enjoying doing, but the financial side of it is, um, questionable.

Knowing now, what I wish I had known then was, if I had slowed down, and thought about this a little bit more than just publishing some e-book, if I had thought about it as a potential career, and then treated it like one, where could I have been now?

But like they say, hindsight is always 20/20.

Can’t say that I would change anything though. It’s been a long ride, and I could have made it a little easier on myself, but to think about all I’ve learned, I think the journey was worth it.

So if you’re just starting out, take my advice, or don’t. You’ll get there eventually and I’ll be there waiting to tell you what I’ve learned in the meantime.

 

Josh Vasquez

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Hey, everybody!

Remember me talking about a little thing called the Savannah Quill?

Well, it happened! (Like two weeks ago. I know, I’m a little late for building anticipation.)

It was a lot of fun meeting new readers, new authors, and just hanging out with fellow bibliophiles!

I made a video of everybody that came, so take a look, it’s in a book, a reading rainbow…

Wait, I mean, take a look and you might find a book.

Yeah, that’s what I meant…

Um, here’s the video:

Here’s some food for thought for my fellow writers, artists, and creators:

Everyone wants to be an Avenger. To be Iron Man or Captain America, or heck, even just Hawkeye for one day would be the dream for many of us. To us, our Avengers are authors like Stephen King, J. K. Rowling, or filmmakers like Spielberg, Lucas, or Christopher Nolan. Or maybe artists like Warhol, Rembrandt, or even Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. The ones who people think of when the words “author, director, artist” come to mind. We all want to be big shots in our creative fields, not because we crave fame, (although some of us do, I’m looking at you Tony Stark) but because we want to make a difference with our art.

Here’s the thing: you can make a difference.

But be a Defender, not an Avenger.

Yeah, the Avengers get all the limelight, the tent-pole movie blockbusters, and all the sweet Hasbro action figures to go with it. But the Defenders, the Defenders are fighting crime on the street-level. They’re in the trenches, getting the work done that the Avengers don’t have time to deal with, which isn’t a knock on the Avengers. They obviously have bigger issues on hand, such as fighting off alien invasions led by an Asgardian god of mischief or stopping the destruction of the world at the hands of an unruly artificial intelligence program.

Some of us may never see the big time. But what we can do is make a difference in our cities. In our own creative circles. We may never have a big blockbuster or New York Times best seller on our hands, but we’re there in the trenches, getting the work done. We’re hitting those word counts and working a full-time job. We’re uploading quality content to YouTube and interacting with our audience, all while we’re raising two year olds and wiping noses. We’re on the Twitters, doing the tweets, and tweeting the things.

It may not seem like much, but it’s what we got.

And what we got, is sometimes all the world needs.

So get out there and make a difference in your circles, in your city, or even in your neighborhood. Because you never know, sometimes even a friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man can become an Avenger.

Josh Vasquez

 

Hey.

Yep, that’s me.

Watch the above video if you want to know things like:

  1. When is book 3 in the Savannah Zombie Novel series coming out?
  2. What has Josh Vasquez been up to?
  3. And what does he have planned for the Savannah Zombie Novel universe?

All these things and more, in video format, so you don’t have to read!

Which is kind of weird when you think about, because you’re most likely here because you like to read…

Hmm… I guess I didn’t think this all the way through…

 

Anyways, enjoy the video and don’t forget to leave a comment letting me know what you think, either here or on YouTube!

 

Josh Vasquez

I recently did an interview with the Savannah Quill founder, Adam Messer.

Wait.

You haven’t heard of the Savannah Quill? (Snorts pretentiously)

Oh, you really haven’t heard of it?

That’s cool, I guess…

It’s only the COOLEST THING EVER!!!

Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration on my part there, but I’m sorry, I’m just really excited.

You see, the Savannah Quill is a book conference aimed at connecting authors and readers together to promote literacy.

Sounds pretty dang awesome, huh?

You bet your Reading Rainbow socks it does.

Still not convinced? Then check out the interview and then hop on over to savannahquill.com to see what all the fuss is about. If you’re a writer, a reader, or somewhere in between, then do yourself a favor and check this out:

DoSavannah article

 

That’s me in our local paper’s DoSavannah section, which features local music and happenings each week.

No big deal.

Haha, jk. It’s weird though, because this is the first time I’ve really put my work out there locally. My books have been in several local bookstores, but unless someone just walked in there, they would have no idea my books exist.

Sad, I know.

But now, “real” people know about my books, not just “internet” people. (No offense.)

Anyways, this was a really cool start to the new year and as I get back on track with A New Daybreak, this really gives me motivation to press forward. I just shared the Prologue with my email list (which you should join by the way and get a free ebook) and will continue to share sneak peeks with them until release day.

You can read the article here and you should probably share it on social media, because it’s 2016 people and that means it’s the future.

The future people.

Alright, now back to writing.

 

Josh

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Ok, so I didn’t just submit my book to the Tybee Island Book Festival.

But I did do so in the last week.

Pretty excited about a local book festival that includes both traditionally published and self-published authors. We have the Savannah Book Festival here every year, but as of right now, they only except traditionally published authors.

Which is kinda funny to me, because two years ago, they had Hugh Howey, who is one of the more well-known self-publishers. In fact, his self-publishing career is what led to him getting a traditional type publisher, but I digress.

I don’t have too many details on how I’ll be envolved with the festival, but I will keep everyone posted.

Josh

Well, I should be.

But I’m actually blogging about editing.

So, like… whatever.

Anyways, I’m making the first pass of edits through Lexx’s Story. Right now it’s all copy-editing and some sentence rearranging. When I edit, I like to knock out the simple stuff first (spelling, grammar, punctuation) and then move on to things like context and content. The first draft is normally for my eyes only, the second only gets seen by beta readers, and the third, well the third is the final, so everybody sees that.

And I mean everybody. (If you haven’t, then you ain’t everybody, and trust me. You want to be everybody.)

That being said, I’d like to open the door for some new beta readers. If you would be interested in receiving an ARC (advanced reader copy), there’s a couple things you gotta do:

1. You have to at least read the rest of the Savannah Zombie Novel series. Lexx’s Story will not make as much sense if you have not read the others.

2. It would be really helpful if you have REVIEWED at least ONE of my other works.

3. Lastly, I would appreciate you posting a review of Lexx’s Story when it releases. Those first reviews are critical for my books to gain any kind of traction and they help other readers know what to expect.

If you are interested in becoming a beta reader, email me at beencalled(at)gmail(dot)com

I will send you an advanced copy of Lexx’s Story and will also open the door for future works. (Book 3 anyone?)

Ok.

Back to work.

Josh

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left4deadWe made it to the rooftop. I looked at the three others in our small ragtag group. We were exhausted, but our spirits were high. Even old man Bill had a smile on his face as he lit one of his last cigarettes. The helipad radio had fired to life only minutes ago and the voice of maybe the last helicopter pilot in the city came through it. He was willing to pick us up. We just had to wait.

We crossed the city in pretty good time by my guess. Even the detour through the sewers didn’t slow us down much. It was gross, but it didn’t kill our time. The climb up to the roof of Mercy Hospital, well that was a different story. If it hadn’t been for that damn witch sitting in the middle of the hallway, we’d have been alright.

I hate witches.

Louis took the blunt of her attack, but once she was down for good, we put our medpacs together and fixed him up. It’s amazing what a little pills will do for ya.

It was then I heard the first scream.

The infected were coming.

One scream was met was met with another and then another, until a whole chorus of undead filled the night’s air. We didn’t have long.

Thankfully, the Army left us a cache of weapons on the rooftop terrace. The city had been full of last-ditch efforts by our military to arm survivors. They may have not had the resources to evac everyone, but at least they had enough sense to give us a fighting chance.

A lot better than CEDA did us.

I hate CEDA.

But the Army? I could kiss the first soldier I see. They left us a nice little gift on the roof.

A freaking chain gun.

I LOVE chain guns.

We loaded what ammo we could into our guns and into our pockets just as the first wave of zombies showed up. Fighting the undead had become pretty standard procedure. It was the damn special ones you had to watch out for.

As if they were reading my mind, they began showing up. A tongue-tentacle wrapped around Zoey and began pulling her towards the edge of the roof.

“Francis, help!”

I aimed my shotgun for the pulled tight tongue first. One blast severed the nasty thing, freeing the young girl. My eyes followed the writhing appendage back to its owner, but he was out of range for my shotgun. I’d just tickle him if I tried shooting.

“Zoey, there!” I yelled, pointing toward the fleeing Smoker.

She trained her rifle on the wheezing freak and sent him packing in a cloud of ash. Zoey gave me the thumbs up and turned her attention back to the zombie horde.

The ground began to shake.

The whole building began to shake.

“TAAANNNNNNKKKK!”

I ran for the chain gun. Louis began peppering the massive beast with fire from his assault rifle. We encountered one of these things before and it was hell to put it down. The chain gun should help that.

I reached the chain gun and grinned as I launched lead towards the monster.

The towering mass of muscle seemed to absorb the bullets like lotion. The nagging thought in the back of my head saying the chain gun wouldn’t do the trick began screaming. I ignored it.

The beast had its tiny eyes fixed on me. It ran, its giant arms pumping it forward like a gorilla on cocaine. The barrels on the minigun began to glow red, but I didn’t let off.

The blinking light of a pipe bomb arced through the air and landed mere feet from the approaching Tank. It exploded, causing the Tank to stumble and fall. It fell to the ground and came to a sliding stop.

It was dead.

I think we all breathed a collective sigh of relief.

The sound of whirring helicopter blades broke the silence.

“Helicopter’s here! Everybody to the chopper!” Bill yelled.

We all began running as more infected began to pile onto the roof. It was as if they knew rescue was here for us and they weren’t gonna let us leave.

The building began to shake again.

I watched as another Tank appeared and separated me from the group. I ran, away from the helicopter, away from the Tank. It was so close behind me I could feel its stench.

There was loud wet smack as I felt my backside give in. The hit sent me flying through the air.

Ten feet. Twenty feet. Thirty feet, until finally, I was away from the hospital roof, staring at the black streets below me.

I am sure my back was broken. Everything hurt. It wouldn’t hurt for long though. The ground was quickly rushing up to put an end to all that.

 

You are dead.

 you are dead

 

I stared at the computer monitor as it taunted me with the game over screen before the game reset and sent me back to the beginning of the level.

“You gotta be freaking kidding me…”

I could not believe I just made it all the way through the No Mercy campaign only to die in the finale. And not just die, mind you, but to be FREAKING PUNCHED OFF THE ROOF!

This was roughly what happened to me the first time I played Left 4 Dead.

And I loved it.

When I bought the game, it was relatively new and I’d never heard of it. I liked zombies and thought the description on the back of the game box sounded fun, so I decided to give it a whirl.

And man, I’m glad I did.

Left 4 Dead puts you in the middle of the zombie apocalypse with three other people. You must use teamwork and strategy in order to survive. The gameplay is basic: Get from Point A to Point B without dying. Repeat.

That’s it. And as far as story goes, there’s a short intro video when the game boots up, but that’s it.

Or so it seems.

While Left 4 Dead may not seem so concerned with story, it actually is. But rather than give elaborate backstory or thrilling cut scenes, it allows to the story to unfold in a different manner.

It allows you, the player, to tell the story. And each story is different.

Left 4 Dead has gameplay AI (artificial intelligence) called “The Director.” The Director will basically watch how you play the game and then adjust gameplay according to your style.

Like to take your time and be stealthy? He’s gonna send a zombie horde your way.

Breezing through the level pretty quick? Oh, here’s a Tank.

Low on health? Try getting past this Witch in the narrow hallway.

It is the Director’s job to make you sweat.

And here’s where I get to storytelling:

Even though it’s the same game, same levels, you never really play the same game twice.

And that’s awesome.

It’s kind of like those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books we read when we were kids. (Remember those?)

You get to tell your own story.

And then there’s the water cooler moments, or as I like to call them, “Holy Crap, did that just happen?” moments. Like the time a Tank punched me off the roof in the No Mercy finale. Or the time I accidently shot a car with a car alarm and alerted the horde. Or the time I snuck up behind a cowering Witch without alerting her and killed her in one shot.

There’s all these cool little moments in the game that just add to the overall gameplay. For me, these are all about the story. It these “Holy Crap” moments that push us forward and keep us wanting more.

I try to incorporate moments like this into my books. Things that when you read them, you simply have no choice but to keep reading and find out what happens next. You may know them by another name: cliffhangers. (Breaking Bad fans will be familiar with these, but they may refer to them as “the end of an episode.”)

With a simple backstory and awesome things to tell your friends about later (maybe near a water cooler), Left 4 Dead oozes with story. It may just not be like you’re use to.

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Well, it’s official.

I’ll be at this year’s annual Savannah Zombie Walk!

Come hang out November 1st, get done up as a zombie, and shamble on through Savannah!

I’ll be there as a vendor, so come say hey, buy a paperback version of my books, get some autographs, or just stare at me like a piece of delicious meat.

It’s for a great cause too. To get your FREE zombie make up, all you have to do is make a canned food donation to the America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia. Check out the website below:

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