Debunking myths on genetics and DNA

Friday, October 30, 2015

Bestselling author and talented writer Nicholas Sansbury Smith has been a guest on CHIMERAS numerous times. That's because his series, Extinction Cycle has some really cool science built into the premise and plot. I've already blogged about how Nick uses epigenetics to create a new kind of "zombies", but today I wanted to invite him over to talk about something else: author success. With two bestselling series and a publishing deal under way, Nicholas is certainly a successful hybrid author, i.e. an author who publishes both through the indie and the traditional platforms. To him, this is the best of two worlds (and I agree). It's proven by the fact that his first book, Extinction Horizon, still stands strong, with over 1,000 reviews, and the newest in the series, Extinction Evolution ranks in the top 10 Amazon categories for horror, medical thriller, and genetic engineering.

So, what's the secret? Well, I've known Nick for over a year now, and I can tell you that his is no secret: he's a hard-working, driven, and extremely dedicated writer. No ads or luck will beat that. He's also very humble, which is a rare quality these days. Nick just shared a few tips on his website for aspiring writers, which, if you think about it, they are sort of obvious: write the best book you can; research both your genre and the authors that write in that genre; polish your book (i.e. hire an editor!); get e jaw-dropping cover (i.e. hire a designer!). Some are less obvious and you hear less talk about it, but are equally important: manage your time well, as marketing requires as much effort and work as writing; invest time and money in your work; build a brand.

I asked Nick a couple more questions to add to his original post.

EEG: You mention listings to promote books (i.e. The Midlist, BookBub, FKBT), but what about Facebook and Twitter ads? Do you want to comment on that?

NSS: I'm not a fan of twitter for selling books for a variety of reasons, but it boils down to one thing--research shows they don't work. Facebook ads are, in my opinion, the future of book marketing. A good Facebook ad that targets the right audience will net you a positive ROI and help a book climb the rankings. For more information on building a successful ad, I highly recommend Mark Dawson's courses.

EEG: For those who can't keep up with all the networking, which platform has been most useful to you between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blogger?

NSS: Again, I would say Facebook. Bloggers can definitely help a book, but sometimes it's more trouble trying to find a blog that will promote a book than it's worth. I'm an advocate of spending as much time on writing as possible and focusing the rest of your time on marketing avenues that work. For me it's Facebook. I'm not an instagrammer : )

EEG: What online resources do you recommend for aspiring authors?

NSS: I typically follow authors in my genre to see what's working for them. I also find networking to be a great way to share tips.

EEG: Thanks so much for these insights and congratulations on this fantastic series!

Find out more about Nick's books on his website and sign up for Nick's mailing list for an exclusive giveaway of Team Ghost velcro patches, book cover posters, and signed paperbacks!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Tails of the Apocalypse: the apocalypse from the animals' POV

I've been posting a lot about anthologies lately. Sci-fi anthologies are a great way to sample the work of new authors, and as you know, one series I've been involved with is the Future Chronicles, produced by the one and only Samuel Peralta. Today I'm proud to introduce another anthology I'll be part of with a short story set in the world of the Mayake Chronicles. If you're familiar with my dystopian series, you'll immediately recognize the name in the title: "Kael Takes Wings" is the story of how the trained falcon Kael became part of Athel's and Akaela's family.

Tails of the Apocalypse is a collection of dystopian/post-apocalyptic stories featuring animals. I read them all and I can tell you, this is one anthology that will make you cry and smile at the same time. It features bestselling and talented authors such as Nick Cole, Michael Bunker, David Bruns, Jennifer Ellis, Hank Garner and editor-in-chief Chris Pourteau, the mind behind this anthology. Oh, and the amazing artwork of Adam Hall. This amazing line-up of authors though is not the only reason why you'll want to buy this anthology. There's another good reason: $1 from every purchase goes to Pets for Vets.

Tails cover"There are a number of unique aspects of this anthology, but the thing I'm most proud of is our partnership with Pets for Vets."
That's how author-editor Chris Pourteau talks about his latest project, Tails of the Apocalypse. Described as The Walking Dead meets The Incredible Journey, the collection includes short stories written by 14 of today's most innovative independent authors. Tails of the Apocalypse examines world-ending scenarios‚ from nuclear war to natural disasters to planetary pandemics featuring animals as main characters.

The idea came to Pourteau last spring after publishing his own short story, "Unconditional" about a dog searching for his boy, lost to the zombie apocalypse. The overwhelmingly positive response from readers made him think that maybe he'd hit a cultural nerve. And the idea for Tails of the Apocalypse was born.

Over the next six months, he recruited his writers--including four USA Today bestselling authors--edited their stories, developed cover art, and produced an anthology that R. J. Pineiro, author of The Fall calls: "One of the most original and captivating collections of end-of-the-world "tails" shown through the eyes of an amazing cast of unforgettable furry and feathered characters."

Giving Tails a Purpose

Even as the anthology took shape, Pourteau felt like he was missing something. The point of these wonderful stories about animals caught up in dystopian situations was about giving voice to those without the ability to speak for themselves. He decided he wanted to donate some of the profits from his self-funded project to an organization that helped animals.

It was one of his authors, David Bruns, also a US Navy vet, who suggested Pets for Vets. From the beginning, it was great fit. The name and the mission of the non-profit immediately resonated with Pourteau. And as Bruns and Pourteau have worked to drum up awareness of their project, they’ve found that the cause resonates with others as well.

Founded by animal trainer Clarissa Black, Pets for Vets matches shelter dogs with military veterans. Personnel train the animals as special companions for veterans suffering from emotional trauma, like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

"Three to four million dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters each year," says Ann Black, president of Pets for Vets. "And it's estimated that 20 percent of returning vets suffer from PTSD. Bringing them together provides a loving home for the pet and a caring companion for the vet. It's a win-win."

The Big Idea

Pourteau plans to donate $1.00 to Pets for Vets from every copy of Tails of the Apocalypse sold through the end of the calendar year, regardless of format‚ e-book, paperback, or audiobook. I'm honored that Pets for Vets allowed us to adopt them as a cause," Pourteau says. "My goal now is to write them a big check on January 1st."

Want to Lend a Hand?

We're calling our project Tails for Vets. If you'd like to be part of the Tails for Vets movement, here's how you can help:
  1. Join the Tails for Vets Street Team
    Get email updates and shareable content by joining the Tails Street Team. Facebook banners, a "badge" you can post online to show your support, and chances to win paperback and audiobook copies of Tails of the Apocalypse are all available to the Tails Street Team.
  2. Buy the Book Tails of the Apocalypse launches on November 20th, but you can preorder on Amazon now. Remember: $1 from every purchase goes to Pets for Vets.
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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

David Bruns brings in the 13th installment of the Apocalypse Weird

Another great author joins the ranks of the Apocalypse WeirdDavid Bruns, author of Weapons of Mass Deception and The Dream Guild Chronicles. And his new book, The Seal Bearer, has a surprise: David brought back one of my characters from my own AW book, Immunity! Can you guess which? David is going to tell us right here on Chimeras.

Welcome, David!

DB: I asked to guest post on Elena’s blog today to make an open confession to the world: I stole one of Elena’s characters for my new novel. You know what else? I don’t regret it, not one little bit.

But I should probably start at the beginning.

Elena and I have both written for the Apocalypse Weird multiverse, a place where we’re encouraged to “borrow” from one another. In fact, that’s one of the big draws of writing in a collaborative world like Apocalypse Weird.

Let’s Talk About the General.
One of my favorite evil characters from Elena’s AW novel, Immunity, is General Naga, a mysterious figure from the Orient. Elena first introduces the general through dialogue:
“He’s from Thailand, or Vietnam, maybe. And I’m not even sure he’s a real general, you know? He wears a uniform but I think he’s more of an extremely wealthy Asian who doesn’t quite know what to do with all his money and so he decided to donate it to H7N7 research.”
Well, if you’ve read Immunity, you know that the general’s plan was more apocalyptic than philanthropic. Elena writes Naga into a brutal torture scene and drops a few tidbits about his association with drug production in the Golden Triangle.

Naga 2.0
My AW novel, The Seal Bearer, takes place in Southeast Asia, home territory for General Naga. Starting on the island of Singapore and heading north through Malaysia, Thailand, and into China, The Seal Bearer is sort of an apocalyptic roadtrip.

I used to live in Singapore and have traveled through the region many times, so I was completely comfortable with that part of the world as my setting. What I needed was a bad guy. Not just any bad guy, but one who would light up the page with his crafty malice. Then I remembered General Naga. One email to Elena later, the general was making a debut in my story.

Naga 2.0 is an elusive character. Everyone talks about him, but the general doesn’t actually make appearance in the flesh until chapter 27:
“Trent knew the man before any introduction had been made. The general studied him with eyes that glittered under low-hanging lids. The man had heavy jowls and a lumpy body that poked bulges in his black uniform in the strangest places. He licked his thick lips with a deliberate slowness as if savoring the taste of a fine wine.”
As I folded Elena’s General Naga into the story, something odd happened: The more I wrote, the bigger he grew, until the general was the main character on the side of darkness.

Trust Your Instincts
Okay, I didn’t exactly steal General Naga. I did get permission from Elena before I used her character, but consider this: She trusted me to treat her artistic creation with respect. I mean, I could have done anything to her character.

Instead, I took the character foundation of General Naga and added to him. If either of us wants to use the general in a future novel, we’ll have a much richer character to draw on.
To me, that kind of sharing between fellow authors is one of the best things about writing in a multiverse.

The Seal Bearer, is available on Amazon now. Here’s what you can expect:
In the lucky 13th installment of Apocalypse Weird, we take the apocalypse to Asia...
For billionaire gaming tycoon Trent Baird, the in-and-out business trip to Singapore was just a blip in his otherwise self-absorbed existence. Do the deal and get back on a plane to LA. 
But when a global pandemic traps him on the island nation, the situation goes sideways fast. Martial law, rumors of zombies, and a girl named Karma, who claims the tattoo on his chest is a talisman in an ancient war against evil. Abandoned by his friends, Trent takes the only escape option left—a thousand mile overland journey to a mysterious hideaway deep in the Himalayas. 
As he fights his way north, Trent faces the awful truth. He is the Seal Bearer, and dark forces are coming for him.
EEG: Congratulations David and thanks so much for guest posting on Chimeras today! Check out David's website and get free books when you sign up for his newsletter!

I should also add that my friend and retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Mike Martin helped me a great deal when researching the background story for General Naga.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Fall Colors

Are you catching some fall colors where you live? The southwest has been blessed with rain all summer thanks to El Nino, and since the fall has been unseasonably warm, we've had some stunning colors that are lasting a really long time this year.

Here are some shots. Hope you enjoy. :-)

© Elena E. Giorgi
© Elena E. Giorgi
© Elena E. Giorgi
© Elena E. Giorgi
© Elena E. Giorgi
© Elena E. Giorgi

Monday, October 12, 2015

Two new preorders

Remember this beautiful image from my talented friend Gretchen Chappelle?

© Gretchen Chappelle
Well, it was inspiring. Gretchen was so gracious to let me license it for a book cover and I'm so excited to finally see it out there. The Gaijin Girl, a short story set in the world of the Mayake Chronicles, is launching this Wednesday. It's only 99 cents and if you happen to enjoy it, I would really appreciate it if you could leave me a review on Amazon.

"Twenty years ago the Gaijins lost the battle against the deadliest and most infectious bacterium ever engineered. To save themselves, the few survivors retreated to complete isolation, surrendering their lives and all human interactions to computers and artificial intelligence.

Now, two decades later, a sixteen-year-old girl eagerly awaits the New Queen’s ending of the mandatory quarantine, allowing the Gaijins to finally step out a of their forced segregation. Lilun longs to start a new life, away from the sterile prison of her virtual world and the control of her robotic mother. But what she doesn’t know is that the world outside has irreversibly changed ..."

In the meantime, Athel, Book 2 in the Mayake Chronicles, has gone up for preorder too. But wait, don't buy it yet: if you can commit to writing a review on Amazon by launch day, November 10, I'll send you a free ARC copy. Ready? Then sign up for my newsletter. I'll be sending out announcements on Wednesday.

And finally, the AI Chronicles -- a collection of AI short stories from some of the best of today's sci-fi writers, featuring my short story Narai -- is on sale for only 99 cents!! Grab your copy because they are going away fast! ;-)