Jericho: The series that ended too soon

Did you ever watch the short-lived TV series Jericho? It lasted for one season way back in 2006. Due to the cult following a shorter season was created a little later to tie up the loose ends. Jericho was a small town in Kansas, and the residents were coming to grips with several American cities razed by nuclear bombs. The draw was in the dynamics of the town, how everyone reacted to the global catastrophe. Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. That was the draw. It was cool, it was post-apocalyptic, it ended way too soon.

I don’t watch much TV, but this was one show I enjoyed. And miss.

I wrote 25 Bombs Fell with Jericho’s basic idea in mind; how ordinary people react given extraordinary circumstances. It makes for great stories and drives so much of my work, delving into human interaction. Young and old. Black and white. Male and female. All those interesting things that makes living such an explosive enterprise.

It’s not a prepper post-apocalyptic, where everyone is an ex-beret/Navy Seal/retired covert ops. It’s about your local cable man suddenly thrust into becoming the leader of a fallout shelter. It’s about a white-collar city-boy from Atlanta finding himself having to fire a gun and tote back-breaking packs of supplies. Ordinary people.

25 Bombs Fell began life as a five-episode series, much like a television show. Each episode contains an encapsulated story, but still fits into the main story arc that runs through all episodes. It’s my best-selling book, by far. I guess many other people like the ordinary people scenario.

Currently I’m working on the second book to 25 Bombs Fell, which should be finished later in 2017. Until then, click on the cover to go to Amazon and pick up the first book. You might enjoy it.

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.

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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.