Two Seconds (a guest blog by Brett Brooks)

Two seconds.

 

Think about that. Really think about it. How long is two seconds? What do you think you can do in two seconds? Not much, really. But, if you are an author, two seconds is a huge amount of time for you.

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That’s because studies have shown that you have that long to catch a reader’s eye with the cover of your book. We live in a society of instant gratification and short attention spans, and in this modern world if you want to catch the attention of a potential reader you need to have something that they are going to remember.

Cover 1

The success of your novel might be based on the one thing that we’ve all heard before: judging a book by its cover. The design of your cover has to target and carry the appeal needed to pull in your reader before they’ve had a chance to even read a single word of text.

Cover 3_pussy

For this reason above all others, you have to take the time and put the energy into creating your cover that is nearly equal to what you’ve done for the interior. Any writer worth their salt takes time to research their subject matter and make sure that it won’t send the wrong message. Do that same thing with your cover. Look at novels in the same field as yours. Take time to find artists who have the skills to produce professional work. Show it to others who have experience in the field. Get feedback. Make changes.

 

Don’t rush anything. Take your time.

 

You have two seconds.

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Brett Brooks is the author of the Pussy Katnip series, including Red is the Darkest Color and The Devil Was Green. He also wrote the critically acclaimed horror-comedy novel Edible Complex, as well as the fantasy series The Champions of Elan. Learn more about his works at the following links: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00KVK5WRU or www.publishing.pandahead.com

Birthday Goodreads Giveaway: Finders Keepers

I’m turning 40 this month, but I may have a gift for you instead. Enter our Goodreads giveaway before month’s end for a CHANCE to win a FREE AUTOGRAPHED paperback of the new edition of the Cycle of Ages Saga: Finders Keepers!

Just click on the widget below to enter!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Finders Keepers by Jeremy  Hicks

Finders Keepers

by Jeremy Hicks

Giveaway ends April 30, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Brief Book Reviews #1: Edible Complex by Brett Brooks

Polonius tells us, “Brevity is the soul of wit”, and in our modern society brevity is more important than ever. Especially when it comes to social media marketing and pitching products to a society with a short attention span. To this effect, I have instituted a new series on my blog with the apt, if not-so-original, name “Brief Book Reviews.”

Edible Complex Cover_Brett Brooks.jpg

Sticking with my love of alliteration, I have decided to start this series with author Brett Brooks and his novel Edible Complex.  Everywhere one looks these days, zombies surround us. They’ve become a bigger and bigger part of pop culture ever since George Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead. With the mainstream popularity of The Walking Dead, zombies are enjoying a high-water mark. In fact, Broke Guys Productions joined this craze several years ago when we wrote a feature-length screenplay entitled Night of the Living Rednecks.

In those properties, and in all the best zombie media, the undead are treated as a metaphor. In our version, we’re commenting on the meth epidemic in the Southeast. Kirkman seems to be saying that one should not fear the sheep in society (the Walkers); instead, one should fear the wolves (the Living). In Romero’s sequel, Dawn of the Dead, he’s commenting on out-of-control materialism and consumer spending. Brett Brooks’ novel is no different, yet so different.

In Edible Complex, the zombies are quite peculiar, even finicky creatures. They’re not a fan of human flesh, unless provoked. They possess a herd mentality, following alpha zombies and the trends set by them. One day, the zombies may crave cereal. The next, cabbage becomes popular. This presents a challenge to those tasked with meeting the ever-changing demands of the undead hordes across the globe. With this take on zombies, Brooks’ crafts a wonderful metaphor on modern marketing and how it affects trends in pop culture and consumer spending.

He does so with wicked wit, a clean writing style, and an excellently paced novel filled with characters who are three-dimensional, possessing complex motivations. No one feels like a true villain. Or a real hero. They are people doing their best to follow their inner truths, which sometimes places them at cross purposes with the other characters. The conflicts feel natural, not forced. The same with the plot development, climax, and resolution.

In a world filled with zombie media, be sure to check out Brett Brooks’ Edible Complex for a funny, thought-provoking story in which zombies are not only a reality, but a key demographic.

Edible Complex is available on Amazon (Kindle and Paperback formats) and Audible.

Cycle of Ages Saga Enters New Edition with the New Year

Broke Guys Productions transitions to small-print press with these editions.

finders keepers sands sorrow covers together

To ring in the New Year, co-creators Jeremy Hicks and Barry Hayes would like to announce new editions of their gripping, action-packed dark fantasy novels in the Cycle of Ages Saga. Mr. Hicks—acting as publisher for their company, Broke Guys Productions—reacquired the rights to their first novel from Dark Oak Press and published new editions of Finders Keepers and Sands of Sorrow. With these recent releases, Broke Guys Productions transitions to a small-print press for genre novels and short stories after years of serving as a means to produce and promote their novels and screenplays.

Seeking to rebrand their flagship property, Hicks and Hayes commissioned Indonesian artist Enggar Adirasa to supply a vibrant series of covers for these editions. Using Adirasa’s artwork, author and artist D. Alan Lewis designed eye-catching covers that provide a unified aesthetic for the Cycle of Ages Saga. These editions of Finders Keepers and Sands of Sorrow are available online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million in both paperback and e-book. Mr. Hicks is editing Delve Deep, the third installment in their saga. It is scheduled for release in 2017, but cover art will be revealed soon. Stay tuned!

Called “The Hobbit meets Heavy Metal” by author Michelle Lowery Combs, the Cycle of Ages Saga will conclude after five novels. However, short stories set on the world of faraway Faltyr can be found online through Dark Oak Press and Pro Se Productions. Deep Diving Death Defying Dwarves of the Deep is featured in the first Capes & Clockwork anthology. Savior of Istara is a story in the Pro Se Digital Single Shot Series. More stories are scheduled for release through Pro Se in the near future. In the words of Mr. Hicks, their saga was created “to provide a sandbox big enough for every fan of fantasy and horror.” Eventually, the creators hope to open up their world to other writers looking for a place to call home. In the meantime, they will continue to work on their novels and push the screenplay versions of the saga.

After a rough and tumble career in field archaeology, Jeremy Hicks teamed up with long-time friend Barry Hayes to realize their creative dreams. They created Broke Guys Productions, wrote screenplay versions and then novel versions of the Cycle of Ages Saga, and had Finders Keepers published by Dark Oak Press in 2013. Read more about them and their books at www.cycleofagessaga.com or www.jjeremyhicks.wordpress.com.

-ENDS-

Contact: Jeremy Hicks | email brokeguysproduction@gmail.com | Piedmont, Alabama

Eulogy for David Bowie, a Space Oddity Come to Earth

Pardon my absence from blogging throughout December. It was a shit month full of miserable, painful health issues. Hopefully, some of those are on the mend now with a new doctor. But it seems the new year is starting off on a rocky note too.

Today, we say good-bye to David Bowie, the Little Prince, the man who taught us there would be changes, and most perhaps importantly, taught us to love ourselves, no matter how much pressure we were under. Along with outspoken rock gods like Freddie Mercury, he helped cement my non-conformist personality, taught me to let me freak flag fly, and kept me speaking the truth no matter how uncomfortable it made others to hear.

In short, this timeline, our very reality, is diminished now that you have passed. May your greatest adventures await you across the Veil, Starman.

Nigh a decade ago or more, I “served” in Obsidian Fleet as Chief Tactical Officer aboard the USS Cerberus with a creative, fun crew of Star Trek fanfiction writers who helped spur my imagination too. They assisted me working on critical writing skills, such as dialogue, plotting, action sequences, and character development. However, we often did solo posts about our characters in their off-duty hours and such. This is one that I wrote as a tribute to David Bowie and his song “Space Oddity”, about unfortunate astronaut Major Tom, which felt appropriate Terran Thomas Jackson Lasitter, the headstrong young tactical officer I was playing at the time, who once upon a time arose to the rank of Captain with his own command. But that is another story for another day.

Today is a day to eulogize a man we all loved and respected. With this award-winning post, I paid tribute to him long ago, and I would like to share it with you now. I post it with the utmost respect to him and to any copyrights owned by others involved in this post. I do not, nor do I claim, ownership of any copyrights or lyrics associated with “Space Oddity” or “Star Trek.” I am simply a fan of both, paying tribute to them at the same time, much the same way both Gene Roddenberry and David Bowie combined science fiction and social issues with their respective media in innovative ways that changed us all forever. Thank you for that and more.

With love and respect, I humbly offer my submission to the Ziggy Stardust Society:

ON:

((Apollo Capsule. . .Command & Control. . .C.A. 1969 A.D.))

The radio blared to life. Tom’s eyes fluttered in his uneasy slumber. Someone was trying to contact him on the comm.

“Houston to Major Tom. Come on, Tom, wake up. Time to take your nourishment pills, put your helmet on, and go.”

Shaking off the artificially induced state, the young man wearing a mid-21st century Terran space suit blinked a few times and reached for the protein pack. Swallowing the gelatin-coated nourishment and washing it down with a powered orange drink, he was ready to proceed with the mission.

“Major Tom to Houston. I’m ready for Phase II at your discretion.”

“This is Houston, Tom. It’s time to leave the capsule if you dare.”

“Transmission acknowledged. . .I’m just stepping out the door.”

Several minutes passed before he had managed to maneuver outside of the capsule to the lander coupled to the underside of the slightly larger vessel. He settled into the cramped interior of the tiny craft and keyed the mike, “Houston, this is Tom. The Eagle is powered up, and I’m set to launch.”

“Houston to Major Tom. We all just want you to know that you’ve really made the grade. The newspapers want to know if you realize what kind of difference this will make for all of man.”

The young astronaut chuckled to himself. “Hey, I’m just up here floating in a tin can far above the world. I’m getting paid to look at stars as far as I can see. . .you guys are the ones dealing with the real problems back on Earth. This program is the one that has
made the difference. . .in me. Thanks for the opportunity to be here. Tell my family that I love them very much.

“They know, Tom. Check your ignition sequence, Major. . .we’re all set to go down here.”

Flipping several of the analog switches and dials to their mission ready positions, Tom joined ground control in the countdown for the release of the lunar lander from the orbiter capsule. At T minus Zero, the roughly hemispherical craft detached from the mothership and sped towards the pock-marked, desolate surface of the moon.

Moments later, the control panel of the lander flickered a few times and went dead. Tom worked furiously to reset the power, but it was a fruitless expenditure of energy. He knew that there was nothing that he could do.

“Houston to Major Tom, your circuits are dead. . .there’s something wrong. . .can you hear me, Tom. . .can you hear me, Tom. . .can you hear me, Tom. . .” the radio trailed off as the backup generator slowly died, plunging the cabin into almost total darkness.

Left floating in his tin can not far above the moon, he felt the gravity well begin to pull the ship towards the surface in an un-powered descent. Piloting the lander without the aid of the thrusters would be next to impossible, but he was determined not to crash and
burn. . .

Approaching the rough lunar landscape at not too steep of an angle, Tom would be surprised if the ship did not sheer apart on impact. Luckily, he managed to dump the volatile fuel mixture well before impact, so he should not have to worry about being consumed in a giant conflagration.

God’s love must have been with him because he lived long enough to wake up amidst the remains of his shattered vessel. Everything was ruined. . .well, almost everything. . .at least, his suit, his crash seat, and his body were intact. Tom was breathing in a most peculiar way, but he was thankful to be drawing air into his lungs at all.

Although it took him a while to untangle himself from the wreckage, he was in no hurry. After all, he was a long way from home and pick up was not only improbable but impossible.

Clear of the wreckage, the battered astronaut lumbered along the surface for the first and last time in his life. At last, he settled down on the edge of a monstrous, impassable crater and waited for the Earth to rise.

Planet Earth was blue. . .there was nothing left to do. Once the air was all but gone, Major Tom unlatched his helmet, lifted it up, and. . .

=/\=PROGRAM TERMINATED DUE TO CASUALTY.=/\=

Still clad in the space suit, Lieutenant Lasitter rose to his feet in the now empty holodeck and smiled at his creativity for holodeck programming. He just hoped that David Bowie would have been as proud of it, too.

OOC: These events occurred onboard the USS Cerberus. . .Deck
. . .Holodeck 2. . .Stardate 58248.8

OFF:

This off-the-wall tribute to “Ground control to Major Tom” brought to you by:

LT Thomas J. Lasitter (aka Jeremy Hicks)
CTO
USS Cerberus (NCC-77919)
TF-72B Black Ravens

==Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.==