What’s Your Personal Monster?

Everyone has been scared by some personal monster, tailored just for us. We’ve all been terrified by the unknown slobbering thing under our bed to the point that we believe we’re going to die of fright. It may seem ridiculous in the morning, but at night it’s as real as the covers we pull over our head.

And we all have our definitions of what makes a monster. It could be a sun-deprived ghost, or green-skinned aliens, or an ax-wielding psycho with three personalities. Maybe the monster is make-believe, a second rate actor on TV with two-dollar fangs and horsehair glued to every inch of exposed skin. Or possibly something a little more terrifying, like a parent who used your back as an ashtray.

We all have our monsters we carry with us through life.

For me, when I was younger, I’d heard about Bloody Mary. I don’t remember the whole story except for this: look in a mirror at night and repeat, “I believe in Bloody Mary,” after which she’d appear. That’s all I needed to know. Bloody Mary tortured me through most of my childhood. I didn’t need to see her; just knowing she lurked out there in the mirror world was enough to keep me from walking into a bathroom with the lights off.

Even now that I’m rapidly approaching mid-life (whatever that number is nowadays) and when I walk into a darkened room with a mirror, sometimes my thoughts race back to eight-year-old me and I get a slight sensation of what I once feared. It’s there and gone before I completely realize what went on. Ambushed me.

Yeah, it’s hard to shake monsters. Especially personal monsters.

In my latest short story, Re:evolution and the Radiant Machine, there are many types of monsters: monstrous men, monstrous machines, monstrous thoughts. People see other people as monsters. People act as monsters when they think they’re trying to stop monsters. It’s like a monster parade, but played out through a sci-fi story.

This story is found in an anthology of great short stories by some great indie authors. Some you might know, others you might not. Pick up this anthology and see what monsters haunt the dreams of these authors. Click the image to be taken to Amazon. You won’t be disappointed. At least I hope not…

A Font Refresh for The Invariable Man Short Story

TheInvariableMan_SSI recently finished a font refresh of my short story cover for The Invariable Man. The previous cover had three different fonts (I think at least three), and the title was an awful yellow. I’m not sure what I was thinking…

This redo uses two weights of Bahn Pro (Regular and Light). I applied a texture to the letters and some drop shadow for some added depth. It’s simple and to the point, and with the awesome artwork of Michal Jelinek as the background, I think it comes together good. The story is only .99 cents, and if you’d like to check it out on Amazon, hit the button below.

Typography in Acme’s Menagerie

I like drop caps. I also like small caps. I especially like when they’re used together. It makes my writing feel important. 🙂

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As I was formatting Acme’s Menagerie for print, I knew I wanted special formatting to begin my chapters. I set up a Paragraph style (above), which was based on my main body style. The type is a beautiful Garamond 11/15 (11 point, 15 leading).  I removed the beginning line indent.

I searched high and low for a capitals font that would fit well with the story, which is about robotic animals. Unfortunately, animal fonts were mostly comical and didn’t fit the mood of the story. However, through perseverance, I found a great initials type based on old woodblock carvings. It’s not animals, but has a pseudo industrial feel. I decided to use that for my drop cap.

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I created a Character Style (above shows character style in paragraph style options) for the drop cap. I set the size to look pleasing but not overbearing when held up to the body text. Even so, I felt there needed to be a smooth transition from the large drop cap to the body text. So that’s where the small caps comes into play.

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I created another Character Style based on the main body text, but set to small caps (11 point, +25 tracking). When using small caps you should add extra tracking (more than your main body text) to give the glyphs room to breathe. In my paragraph style, I chose for the first four characters to be formatted as small caps.

Once I looked at the formatted paragraph, I noticed that the drop cap height didn’t align to the small caps, so on the drop cap character style I shifted the baseline down so that the top was flush with my small caps. For the chapter first paragraphs that began with left quotes (“), I simply deleted the left quote so the first character was a letter. (I could’ve hung the quotes, but that’s a story for another day.)

In the end, I like how the page formatting worked. Below is a snippet of a beginning section of a chapter. Notice how the drop cap spans four rows in height, how the left is aligned, and how the top is even with the small caps, which have extra space between the characters. Now if only the ebook version would format this well…

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Click cover to pick up a print copy of Acme’s Menagerie:

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The Charm Bracelet – A Cyborg Story

So while working on my current novel, Samuel Peralta got a hold of me and asked if I wanted to contribute a story for his upcoming short story anthology, The Cyborg Chronicles. I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough.

Sam is a compelling author that I’ve known for the past year or so. He’s also the series producer for the Chronicles (check out the Facebook group), a series of short, speculative fiction. He surrounds himself with excellent talent and produces excellent anthologies. This means that somehow I’ve managed to fly under the radar for now…

Anyway, as I thought of a worthy cyborg story, I began to wonder if there’s room in my American Robot (AR) Universe for cyborgs.

I’d say most definitely.

The story that I’m planning is going to challenge my concepts of AR. It’s going to push me even further in what I envision: a world where androids are an everyday occurrence but are revered like gods. It’ll provide fertile ground for me to continue to develop. I’m excited for the story. Now I just need to write it…

So in The Charm Bracelet (I reserve the right to change the title) you’re going to hear of something called “BattleSat” and learn about “nail guns.” You’re also going to find out more about Dynamo Robotics, Dynamo’s EMTs, and their never-ending quest for salvage bodies. And you’re going to read of one man that has lost everything, except for his memories of what he once was.

Invariable Man – A cover in transition

I thought I would do a blog on the cover for my new novel, Invariable Man. Here is the final print cover:

The central image is to represent a falling man. It’s not a demon… or an angel. Think more along the lines of Icarus. The lines throughout the body represent technology. And they’re red because I like red on black (you can tell by looking at my other covers). 

I accidentally discovered the interlocking of the legs through the word ‘Invariable.’ I had my vector images in Inkscape (an excellent FREE vector image program) messing around trying to figure out a cover concept. So I moved my falling man vector over the word and thought if I could make it appear that the man is twisted in the words. To my surprise, I actually did it.

 When I imported the images in Photoshop for final composition, I added a drop shadow to the man to heighten the illusion of him caught in the words. Well, that’s enough about this for now, I’ll talk more about this cover later.

A Labor of Love: Eleanor

I took a couple of years to write Generation Neon. That included outlining, writing, and editing. It felt like a lifetime, and I was happy to be done with it.

Jason Gurley, an author acquaintance, has been working on his epic fantasy, Eleanor (click for Amazon pre-order), for thirteen years.

That’s a labor of love.Eleanor

After countless writes and rewrites, he has finally finished Eleanor, a story that he has worked so long and so hard to tell. The result will be available late June for all to purchase.

If you are amazed at the cover, know that not only is Jason a talented writer, he is also a talented designer. A double threat. He created this amazing cover, which gives a haunting atmosphere to his story.

Here is the book blurb:

1985. The death of Eleanor’s twin sister tears her family apart. Her father blames her mother for the accident. When Eleanor’s mother looks at her, she sees only the daughter she lost. Their wounded family crumbles under the weight of their shared grief.

1993. Eleanor is fourteen years old when it happens for the first time… when she walks through an ordinary door at school and finds herself in another world. It happens again and again, but it’s only a curiosity until that day at the cliffs. The day when Eleanor dives… and something rips her out of time itself.

And on the other side, someone is waiting for her.

The book blurb, like the cover, continues the otherworldly sensation. I had the fortune of reading an early beta copy and can confidently say that the story will delight you. So if you are looking for a good fantasy, then look no further than Jason Gurley’s Eleanor, available for pre-order.