Friday, March 27, 2015

Zombie-head totem poles coming soon!

As many of you know, the DEAD series is closing in on its ending. Book 12 (DEAD: End) will release on Halloween, putting an end to the series proper. No need to fret, the spin off will have two books released by then and a third on the way. Also, for those inclined to take a lighthearted romp, there is always That Ghoul Ava.

However, I have the new cover for DEAD: Blood & Betrayal, and it is now my favorite cover ever. +Thomas- Andy Butnariu did a STELLAR job. Hell, this might become my new tattoo some day. It is funny, but as I put the wraps on the series, of course I have the nerves and concerns that I might disappoint the readers who have been so amazing and loyal, but I am also excited about some new things on the horizon (like my recording studio!).

Also, as I mentioned, the DEAD: Snapshot--{insert town here} series will certainly be rolling for the next few years. There could be as many as 20-30 titles depending on reader interest. Leeds, England is about to fall in short order, and then a handful of small towns are vying for my third offering which will be a blast to write because of the idea I have brewing.

However, once again, that brings me to a conundrum. The lack of zombies in a zombie book. Saying that I am scared silly about the reception book 11 might receive is a HUGE understatement. I think I have some story lines with NO mention of the "Z word" at all. But I am rambling. Nerves mostly due to tonight and the debut of DEAD: Snapshot--Portland, Oregon at the Portland Thunder arena football game. Seriously, I am having a hard time deciding if I want to dress semi-nice, or come to the game as just another fan of the team. I might be seen on the Jumbo-tron during the book handout to the Zombie row. Plus, I will be meeting a few fans at the game. So...yeah...nerves.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tight like a tigah!

Readers of the saga that is the DEAD series are probably aware that the 11th book in the series is due to be released in just over a month. That means it is time to start dropping a few peeks under the hood. Funny thing, but the "Vignettes" sections were only supposed to be global snapshots of what was happening in the world of the DEAD series. Sort of a chance for the reader to take a breath between the main stories. I had no intention of any of them lasting very long. Yet, here we are in the homestretch and Juan remains. He has become his own "major" story line of sorts. I thought it would be nice to start my previews with the man who has the only actual catch phrase in the series.

The lighter side of zombies.
Juan felt himself slip from consciousness. His last memory was seeing a pair of legs coming his direction. He wished desperately that he could see Mackenzie’s face as it was before she died, but the only image was that of the sallow faced, tracer-riddled eyes that had consumed her beauty in those last days.
The next thing he knew, Juan’s eyes were struggling to adjust to the flickering light of a fire. Through slitted eyelids, he could make out the log walls of a cabin. He was trying to decide if he was in a good place, or maybe this was a new and horrible basement scene like the one he’d endured at the hands of a crazy woman all those years ago.
“You thirsty?” a man’s voice asked. It was rough, and sounded awkward.
Great, Juan thought, zombies have finally learned how to talk.
“Daddy!” a familiar chorus of squeals brought him to fully awake and Juan was suddenly frantic. He was bound and unable to move. He began to squirm, frantic to come to the rescue of his daughters, Della and Denita.
“Easy, mister,” the awkward voice warned.
A shadow fell over Juan as a coarse spun shirt filled his entire field of vision. Juan looked up and could only see a dark outline against the light of the fire. There was a moment where he wanted to scream as he felt hands fumbling for him, but then he was suddenly free to move.
“Just take it easy, mister,” the voice whispered. “The girls don’t need to see you all frazzled. Took them a mighty long spell to get comfortable here.”
Juan tried to sit up and found that his head swam the moment he got less than halfway upright. He lay back down and took a deep breath to try and get his nerves settled. That was also just enough time for two small figures to climb up and on top of him. Both girls began talking a million miles an hour, not a single word managing to make sense as both talked over the other and neither relating a similar part of the story. Then he heard something that got his attention.
“Wait!” Juan groaned, getting his elbows underneath him and easing up just a bit. “What was that ‘bout the deaders?”
“The Grizzly Man came in and chopped them all down just in time to save Keith and the horses and Brianne. Then he talked with Keith and they said they would meet you in Ankledge,” Denita spoke with amazing surety.
“Actually, my name is Gerald, but your girls think it is fun to call me the Grizzly Man.” A hand that looked as if it could engulf both of Juan’s at once came forward and waited to be clasped in greeting. Juan shook the man’s hand and accepted the help to a completely upright position.
Juan’s eyes had finally adjusted to the light and he took in the figure that spoke. His daughters had chosen well in their nickname. The man was taller than any human being that Juan had ever met in his life. He was wearing a heavy shirt that was partially unbuttoned to display more hair on the man’s chest than most men had on their heads, and then there was the beard. ZZ Top in their heyday could not compare to the thick and massive beard that climbed the man’s cheeks to the point of almost hiding his eyes, and hung low enough down to settle on the solid but ample belly.
“Juan Hoya,” he said absently as his eyes drifted around an open cabin that looked like the setting for a really cheesy horror movie.
The walls were adorned with the heads of bears, wildcats, moose, and a variety of other animals that all stared back with empty gazes. One shelf had a variety of smaller animals. This was where his gaze lingered. There looked to be a squirrel or some such animal on a tiny unicycle. He saw a skunk reading a newspaper while seated on a miniature toilet, and then there was an arctic fox wearing glasses and leaning against a light post checking his wristwatch.
The man noticed Juan’s gaze and made an embarrassed cough. He started for the shelf and then stopped as if realizing that he could not cover anything up as the cat was already out of the bag so to speak.
“Alone out in the Alaskan wilderness, you come up with some…interesting ways to bide your time.” The man reached over and adjusted the fox so that it was easier to see the fact that it appeared—above everything else already apparent—to be smiling down at a mouse that was standing beside him in some sort of jacket.
Juan made a grunt as his eyes now shifted to the arsenal of bladed and spiked weapons adorning one entire wall. One sword in particular looked to be taller than his daughters. The gleam from the firelight and the few hanging lanterns gave away that the edges were finely honed. Juan had no doubt that every single blade on that wall was sharpened to a razor’s edge.
“So, as your daughters already told you,” Gerald rumbled, “your friends went ahead to Anchorage.” He made a point to enunciate the word as he winked at Della and Denita.
“How long have I been out?” Juan asked cautiously.
“In and out for over a week,” the man replied.
“Grizzly Man had to clean your butt!” Della snickered, and then both she and Denita were giggling uncontrollably.
“You have been taking care of us this entire time?” Juan gave the man a curious look.
“He killed the deader wolves before they could eat you,” Denita said around the last of her giggles.
Everything came flooding back for Juan. The horse falling, the pain in his leg, and the wolves. No matter how many times he encountered those horrible things, he did not think he would ever not be totally creeped out by them.
“You took a nasty fall,” Gerald said with a nod. “All that noise distracted the wolves from their original target.”
“Huh?” Juan shook himself clear of the memory and focused on Gerald again. “What target was that?”
“Me,” the big man said with a sigh. “Damn things had me dead to rights. Already took down my bear. I’m gonna miss old Walt.”

Suddenly, the nickname was making a lot more sense.

Monday, March 23, 2015


Bullies are basically weak. In mind. In spirit. I still remember the day I took some "old school" advice and punched mine in the face. I still recall him asking me through the blood and tears, "Why did you have to go and do that?" Most bullies are clueless. Some even see themselves as crusaders--a laughable idea if there ever was one.

No matter who you are, I am sure that you have had the misfortune of dealing with them. It is in the news these days and has caused some of those not equipped to deal to take drastic measures. Some have taken their lives. Others have taken the lives of those they perceived to be the root of their problem. Even sadder (and trust me, it is already tragic), often the casualties are people who had no idea who the person on the other end of that weapon was as they died senselessly.

In this era, the internet has allowed this practice to reach epic proportions. Safely ensconced behind a keyboard, there are people who are so miserable, jealous, or just plain idiotic, that they let whatever strikes their fancy to pour out on social media sites like Wastebook. And these days, children are not the only ones targeted.

The funny thing about when adults do this sort of thing, they verge on things like slander and defamation. They can actually be charged in criminal court as well as be hit for monetary damages.  And the evidence is SO easy to collect. Besides the always popular "emotional distress" angle, there is also times when these sorts of attacks are aimed at a person's livelihood. And if that can be proved...well, then you have to let the lawyers start tossing around damages both real and  potential.

Before social media made it easy for spineless little trolls to toss things out there on a whim, my best advice was always to ignore them. A schoolyard punch in the nose means suspension; doing it as an adult usually means jail. I've been there, trust me when I say it is NOT worth the trouble or short-term satisfaction that ends as soon as the cell door slams with a metallic 'CLANG'. Besides, most of these people suffer from low self-esteem, plain old jealousy, or the crassly worded penis envy. Simply put, they are miserable sacks of human waste that will likely never experience true happiness. Perhaps they were bullied in their younger days. Maybe they got beat up on the way home from school too often or got wedgied until they had trouble sitting down or stood up on prom night. (Who wanted to risk a 'Carrie' scene after seeing what happened after Sissy Spacek got laughed at?) I guess we might never know what it is that made them so sad. 

I sort of feel sorry for them. Sort of. However, as supposed adults, they really don't have any excuses for their actions. It is easy for ignorant people to spout off at the mouth (or fingers) these days. However, sometimes they start to let that type of attitude carry over until they end up paying a price they were not aware might come due. 

There is another aspect of today's society that I don't much care for. The whole idea of "lawyering up" makes me cringe. And when it comes to me, I can take pretty much anything that life has to throw at me. I have taken some huge shots and still managed to work hard, ignore the critics and nay-sayers to hit the Amazon Best Seller's list. I have a series that does exceptionally well and another that is slowly gaining an audience. This in the face of people who use a past of which they know none of the facts. (2021 will see me able to actually give MY side...stay tuned.) But...when things threaten my family and my ability to care for them...well, then I guess I have to break weak and bring in the professionals. 

It is still just simmering on the back burner...but who knows. I might cave and take some advice a friend of mine gave when he explained that there are serious legal issues involved when people cross a line. I never even knew there was such a thing as a line that people could cross with words. Sticks and stones...right? Apparently words can incur things called "damages." 

Friday, March 20, 2015

The fear of being a disappointment!

Any Sopranos fans out there? How about the riveting show that was Lost? If you fall into either of those groups, then you might know a little something about feeling like you went on this amazing journey that ended up with a great big kick in the naughty bits. Sure, there are those who will profess to be just fine with how two of the most epic television series ever came to a halt, but judging by the responses at the time, I am guessing that those people are in the minority. X-Files? Hell, even Rosanne and Seinfeld get grief from anybody who vested any serious amount of time watching a sitcom for anything other than the humor. And don't get me started on How I met Your Mother, a sitcom that started off with a supposed end game.

Give me the ending to Breaking Bad...or either of my personal faves, Friday Night Lights and Quantum Leap (the song Georgia on my mind garnered some serious meaning for me after that QL finale, it still almost brings a tear to my eye when I hear it). The finale is the reward to the fan. It is that last image that they will cling to for eternity. It can be the toughest episode to create because it is going to have the greatest impact. Nothing that came before will mean squat if the finale sucks. (See Lost.)

So, what the hell does any of that have to do with me? Well, as many of you may very well know, the proper DEAD series is coming to a conclusion. I expect to release DEAD: End (Book 12 of the DEAD series) on Halloween of this year. I am currently cobbling book 11, DEAD: Blood & Betrayal and am experiencing some tremors of nervousness as the book wraps. (I think I set a record for the lack of zombies in a zombie novel with this one.)

I intend to go directly into the writing of DEAD: End immediately. This book has gone through so many possible conclusions in my head that I could write five "alternate ending" books. One of my earliest ideas was to give each major character a final chapter. Too bad most of them (major characters that is) did not survive to have a final chapter. 

I think I have settled on one story line's ending. I am not certain how I will get there, but that is half the fun for me as a writer. Still, even though I think the ending is kinda cool, that by no means carries over to how it will be received. I have learned over the past few years that things I see clearly can often be cloudy at best for my readers. (I thought I dropped enough clues when I began the Emily-zombie story line to explain the behavior of the child zombie...umm...NOPE! I still have folks asking what the deal with the child zombies is after book 9.)

To say that I am feeling the pressure would be an understatement. You, my loyal reader, have embarked on this journey with me and trusted that I would take you to a satisfying conclusion. I have almost reached a point where the last paragraph has Pamela Ewing go into the bathroom where Bobby is taking a shower. Once she tells him about her "crazy dream" he says, "Wait until I tell you about mine! Spoiler, it has zombies in it!"

I guess I am just saying that, like anything in the world of entertainment, not everybody is gonna love it. My biggest goal right now is to avoid comparisons to any of the shows mentioned in the opening paragraph.

Oh well, I have until October before the calls rise up for the villagers to arrive with their torches.. Right?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Signed books? Tee shirts?

Recently, I have fielded a few emails asking about tee-shirts, wristbands, and any number of DEAD (and That Ghoul Ava) merchandise. This is a new idea for me since I hardly believed that my writing would gather such a loyal and sometimes rabid fan base. I mean, that kind of thing (merchandise) is for the big shots and folks with a television series or movie. Certainly nothing that an indie author need concern himself with...right? Apparently I was incorrect on that assumption.

So I guess that brings me to you, the readers and fans of my assorted book series. What sorts of things would you like to see made available? Logo emblazoned coffee mugs? Tee-shirts? Hooded sweatshirts? I think the possibility is endless. However, since I will not be relying on mass production, the prices might be an issue. So what are some price points that I might want to consider?

Next, there has been more than a few people asking me to make signed copies available for purchase. Okay, that is pretty easy. So maybe this weekend, I will put something out on my Author Page. Signed copies of any of my titles that is available in print for a reasonable price that includes shipping. The thing there is that the more books I am able to order, the cheaper my cost is to have a case or two of books shipped to me.  And then there are my wonderful UK fans. I think it goes without saying that it would be quite expensive to ship overseas; which means I would have to charge more. Honestly, I hate that. This is also why I am a writer and not an accountant. I get dizzy thinking of all the numbers, costs, and other such nonsense.

Still, I have put it before you. What do you think?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Today, I turn things over to Earl Javorsky. Y'all treat him nice, ya hear?

What are some of the best and worst things about being an author?

Having people like an entertaining story is nice, but it’s nice like having them like your baked cookies is nice. What’s really fulfilling is when people respond to the fundamental strangeness of my interior world as it is expressed in my writing. It’s a way of connecting, and it’s a bit much to expect that strangeness to resonate with every reader.
The worst part is—besides getting stuck and frustrated occasionally—is the aspect of self-promotion. I feel like a network marketing newbie in a gladiator pit.

What are some of the lessons you have learned as a writer that caught you off guard?

I have been surprised by my hunger for approval, something I thought I had long outgrown. And by my occasional tendency toward grandiose fantasizing. It’s one thing to care about finding appreciative readers and to dream big, yet quite another to crave praise and imagine award ceremonies. It’s an interesting lesson in staying right-sized.

What can you share about your writing process with new or up and coming writers?

Just write. Read good stuff and you will internalize good habits. Join other writers, be part of the culture of creators—I don’t believe in the idea of the creative loner working in a vacuum. Read The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler, and Stephen King’s On Writing - A Memoir of the Craft.
If you were to change genres, what would be your next choice?

Eccentric literary.

What could traditional publishing learn from the Indies? And how about the other way around?

I’m too lazy to start a diatribe here and now.

The writing community can be its own worst enemy at times. What are some of the issues you see cropping up? Solutions?

Same. My writing community is  small and I don’t pay attention to the culture at large. Nor do I watch my Amazon numbers.

The social media is . . .

The social media is here. Use it or be a proud artist in total obscurity.

Share some information about your work with us:

Here’s the original agent pitch for DOWN SOLO, which was relesed in December:

Charlie Miner wakes up looking down at his body on a gurney at the LA County morgue. When he moves closer to the body, it pulls him in and he is able to make it get up and walk around. Charlie, a down-on-his-luck, heroin-addicted insurance fraud investigator, leaves the morgue with two priorities: to get a fix and to find out who killed him. The trouble is, there’s a bullet in his brain and his memory is full of holes. His quest will take him backward to rediscovered memories and forward to new danger, further loss, and, finally, possible redemption. Down Solo borrows from Stephen King only to the extent that, generally, people don’t reanimate their bodies and continue daily life. Otherwise, the novel is more or less a straightforward (well, slightly convoluted) Chandleresque mystery.

How do you deal with negative reviews?

What are my options?

How much reading do you get in, and can a writer excel at his or her craft if they do not read?

I work as an editor and proofreader. When I take a break, I read Harper’s or Wired in the back yard. At night, I read fiction before lights out. I’m a print junkie. Expecting to be a good writer without reading a lot is like trying to be a good musician if you don’t listen to music. Hopeless.

When does self-promotion cross the line and become a nuisance?

There is no line.

What projects are you currently working on?

Responding to editor suggestions for my next book, TRUST ME, which is coming out in July. Taking notes for my third book, which will be a sequel to DOWN SOLO.

What is in your “to be read” pile right now?

The Bitch, by Les Edgarton; Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality by Max Tegmark; a book or two on Buddhism.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Lost in Space with a martian girl named Aolean.

Get you copy HERE.

This story has absolutely captivated. When I was invited to receive a copy of Aoleon The Martian Girl: Science Fiction Saga - Part 3 The Hollow Moon in exchange for an honest review, I was a bit skeptical as I started in on  Aolean the Martian Girl-Part 1: First Contact. However, I could not get over how incredible the art work turned out. But as I read the story, I found something that made this such a hit. All the best cartoons (in my opinion) absolutely enthrall the younger audience; yet it is when there is clever subtext woven in that an adult can appreciate that the cartoon or children's tale can transcend the target audience and scoop up the older crowd. This series does exactly that.

This episode ramps up the action and gives the reader (and listener if you read this with or to your younger household denizens) a dose of nasty villains and lovable heroes. This is a tale that will undoubtedly build a very loyal and enthralled audience. To make such a rich world and populate it with so many unique characters is a testament to Mr. LeVasseur's imagination. And to see the development of the relationship between Gilbert and Aolean grow with this story is a treat. An added bonus is the glossary in the back just in case us "adults" who do not hang on every word and become engrossed in pretending we are one of the characters in this book, happen to forget a thing or two about this rich and "real" world.

Book Description:
Spying on the Luminon, Aoléon and Gilbert uncover his plot to steal Earth’s milk cows and make the disturbing discovery that the Martianleader plans to disrupt Mars’s galact supply. The duo races to warn Aoléon’s father, Deimos, a manager at the galactworks, before the Luminon’s saboteur can act.

While still on the run, Aoléon takes her pilot’s exam so she can join the Martian intergalactic exploration fleet. However, during the test-run, something goes horribly wrong. The two are put in a life-threatening situation and only Bizwat, Aoléon’s Procyon commando friend, can save them.

Gilbert finally gets his chance to learn to skyboard, but the lesson turns into a test of skill as he and Aoléon are chased by the Royal Paladin Guard.

Will they survive?

Don't miss this exciting part 3 of 5 of the middle-grade sci-fi series Aoleon The Martian Girl.

Meet the Author:

Mr. LeVasseur enjoys crafting good stories based on lovable characters designed to translate well to multiple media formats such as books, games, movies, and toys. He lives in New York when he is not commuting between Southern California and Olympus Mons, Mars. His hobbies include writing, 3D animation, musical composition, and intergalactic space travel. He also enjoys various sports such as skiing, running, and exospheric skydiving.

Connect with Brent:   Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Aoléon: The Martian Girl