CONSUMPTION News, An Interview, Giveaways, and More!

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Consumption has been in the wild for a few days now, and had a wonderful launch this past Tuesday. As you can see from the image above, it was a #1 short story release on Kobo, and even made it as high as #3 in their overall Horror listings upon its release. I’m really, really proud of this one, and a great big THANK YOU to everyone who has purchased the eBook thus far.

If you haven’t yet bought Consumption, what are you waiting for? It’s a terrific Halloween treat for yourself or your gore-hound friends. Or it could be a fun 99 cent trick to play on somebody, but they might end up thanking you for it anyway.

To celebrate my new release, I’m offering up 25 freebies of both Consumption and Convergence eBooks through a LibraryThing giveaway. There are a huge amount of titles up for grabs over there, so if you’d like a shot at either (or both) of my titles, go enter! To make finding them a bit easier, run a quick search (Ctrl+F) in your browser and start typing the titles. You’ll land upon them pretty quickly.

The Consumption giveaway is running until the afternoon of Oct. 28, and Convergence is being offered until Nov. 7.

I recently had a great conversation with fellow author S. Elliot Brandis, whose work I’ve become a huge fan of. You can read his interview with me over at his site, where we talk a bit about both of my titles and what’s coming up next for me. While you’re there, be sure to check out his review of Consumption, too!

As far as what’s next for me, as I said the interview, I’m working on editing Emergence, the follow-up to Convergence, for a 2015 release. 2015 is going to be a neat year for me, I think, as I’ll also be taking part in an anthology of sci-fi themed works. I’m taking a small break from editing to work on a new short story for this collection. Hopefully I don’t jinx myself by saying the writing is going well! I can’t tell you much about this story or the anthology just yet, but as soon as I can release the news I will. I’m über excited to be involved in this project and there’s some fresh, top-notch talent involved. So, keep your eyes peeled for news and be among the first to know by signing up for my newsletter.

You can also check out the full details on Consumption and Convergence at these links, and be sure to add them to your Goodreads page, as well.

CONSUMPTION: Behind The Scenes

CONSUMPTION COMPLETE

At the tail end of May, my wife and I were watching a few episodes of Food Network’s CHOPPED. It had been a while since we’d last seen the show, and the opening credits had gotten a bit of a makeover in our absence. As the sequence ended, the camera flashed on a weird, tentacly creature that surprised us, and we weren’t sure if it was a squid or octopus, or what. I made a joke, something like, “In tonight’s basket: Cthulhu!”

It was one of those stupid off-handed comments, but for whatever reason an idea took root. It must have been a Thursday, and by that weekend I was off to the races, writing more than three thousands words each day. By Monday, after a feverish writing sprint, the first draft of the story was finished.

I hadn’t written anything quite like it in a while. When I explained the premise to my wife, her first reaction was “Isn’t that a bit out of your range?” I’ve only dabbled in horror, long ago, and my last serious effort was a bit of a non-starter, one that aborted early on. In fact, for a look at my first and only published horror story to date (until CONSUMPTION releases on Oct. 14, that is!), you’d have to go back a whole decade, to June 2004, when my short story CATECHISM was published in the magazine REVELATION by Fourth Horseman Press. Since then, I’ve been much more on the side of consumer than producer in the realm of horror.  This story, though, was an ugly little baby, and I couldn’t turn away from it.

The initial concept was a bit of extreme cuisine by way of H.P. Lovecraft, a sort of satirical look at foodporn culture and Instagram dinners by way of a splatter-gore creature feature. Granted, I’m guilty of indulging in foodporn culture myself. I love food, and if it’s presented well enough I have no problem commemorating such a dish. The Food Network is my go-to station; CHOPPED, IRON CHEF AMERICA, even some of their home-cook turned celebrity shows are entertaining. I am an unabashed fan of Anthony Bourdain. And I think that NBC’s HANNIBAL is one of the best damn shows on television and is the perfect representation of culinary horror.

So naturally, I wanted to take this stuff to the point of excess and linger over some of the more disturbing intonations of it all. Originally, I was going to call the story YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT but that was a bit too on the nose for my tastes, and felt like more of a parody title than what I was going for. CONSUMPTION was more evocative to me, more mysterious, darker, and captured the sort of predatory feel of the piece itself.

My wife is right, though. It is a bit out of my wheelhouse. It’s more experimental that my previous science fiction novel, CONVERGENCE, but experimentation is one of the joys of writing and self-publishing. I can try whatever the hell I want and let readers decide how worthwhile it really is. There’s certainly a part of me that prefers being a writer as a whole, rather than pigeon-holed into a single category or type of writer. I want to dabble. I want to play with all kinds of ingredients and different flavors, if you will. On the other hand, I fully embrace the category of speculative fiction, which is broad and murky in its definition. All you need is a ‘what if.’ And CONSUMPTION began with one hell of a what if, one that, quite literally, consumed me for days on end.

Almost as soon as I finished writing it, I began editing. I carved away quite a bit, added new stuff, fleshed out the characters a little bit more, and amped up the gore. If the first draft was about just carving loose a horror story, then the second draft was a very deliberate attempt to make readers feel dirty by the end of it. By the end of the second draft, I felt that I had a tighter, better written piece, and that it was ready to go to a professional editor (and author herself) for the next round of work, and Carol Davis did a bang-up job fixing my mistakes.

For the cover design, I turned to Debbie at The Cover Collection for a custom job. While I was writing, I was also thinking about what sort of image would best represent CONSUMPTION. I very much wanted to see a kind of old-fashioned butcher’s chart, and came across this vintage diagram:

Photo by Lisa Michelle, Twisted Orchid Designs, 2013.

Instead of a pig, cow, or chicken, I wanted a nasty looking beastie. Debbie sent me a terrific stock image, and I asked for some specific alterations to bring it more in line with the creature of CONSUMPTION. The end result is a pretty close, neatly dissected representation, that was then grunged up a bit, and which focuses on the culinary themes of the story.

Hopefully you’re ready and willing to join me on this little adventure of food-gore. I hope you’re well fed, perhaps full of long pig, and well-satiated, yet ready for one more small morsel as the night deepens.

You can pre-order CONSUMPTION at Amazon, or check here for links to other fine eBook retailers where the book is available.

Review: Once Upon A Time At The End Of The World by S. Elliot Brandis

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About Once Upon A Time At The End Of The World

Meet the android with no name. Seventy years ago, he was freed: his permission chip was removed and a gun placed in his hand. He was sent to fight for his country.

It was the war that ended the world.

Now, America is a wasteland. Wild towns have emerged across the frontier, lawless places filled with drunks and opportunists. The android rides from town to town, collecting warrants and seeking justice. Life is violent and meaningless—full of blood, whiskey, and dust.

When he meets Sierra—a fiery southerner with a chip on her shoulder—they embark on an unlikely journey, a dangerous search for vengeance.


About the Author

S. Elliot Brandis is an engineer and author from Brisbane, Australia. He writes post-apocalyptic fiction, often infused with a variety of outside elements. He is a lover of beer, baseball, and science fiction.

His stories are about outlaws, outsiders, and the others.

To find out more:

Web: http://selliotbrandis.com/
Facebook: http://facebook.com/selliotbrandis
Mailing List: http://eepurl.com/PsmMv
email: s.elliot.brandis@gmail.com


My Thoughts

Full disclosure – I know Elliot a bit from KBoards and Goodreads. I’d first heard about his idea to write a post-apocalyptic western with a gruff android at the forefront sometime ago, and had been salivating to read it ever since. I received a free copy of his latest through his newsletter. He’s currently giving away Part I (this novella), and will be giving away Part II, as well, in the coming months. It would behoove you to sign up for his newsletter at http://selliotbrandis.com ASAP.

All that said, I’d like to think that my familiarity with Elliot did not cause me to inflate my perceptions of how much I enjoyed Once Upon A Time At The End Of The World or prompt me to approach it with any undue bias.

The simple fact of the matter is, I freaking loved it. I loved the idea as soon as he told me about it, and after reading it, I love it even more.

The execution is terrific and his handling of the android in a western setting is adroit and even-handed. I was really thrilled with how well the high-tech science fiction aspect of his central character worked in the forsaken, dying Earth environment. This is a classical western story with some nifty, much-welcomed twists.

Once Upon A Time… is also a richly dark world. The author clues us in on the world’s future-history, teasing out the information without sacrificing the story’s quick pacing or bogging us down with overly long, dry lessons of background details. There was a war, and nukes and antimatter bombs decimated the world. Androids were enlisted into the military to fight the war on behalf of the humans, taking US drone policy to the next level. It’s a smart way of bridging the two seemingly disparate genres of science fiction and western, but Brandis makes it work. Think of it as an old Eastwood spaghetti western flick by way of Firefly, but without the quirky humor or space travel.

In fact, there’s not much to laugh at in Elliot’s latest dystopian, with so much of the world bombed back into the hardscrabble living of two hundred-plus years past. Humanity has been stripped raw, and it seems like there’s only two class of people left to fend for themselves: victims and potential victims. It’s a stark, grim read, with a cast as dangerous as the desolate desert they inhabit.

While I can’t help but think there’s a good deal owed to Eastwood and Sergio Leone in terms of inspiration, there’s also some pure Peckinpah at play here. This is The Wild Bunch by way of The Android With No Name. It’s a bloody affair, right from the opening pages, where the android teaches an explicit lesson to an unlucky drunk on the difference between robots and androids. The scene is chillingly effective, and Elliot gets off to a fine start with his crazy genre hybrid.

Once Upon A Time At The End Of The World is the first in a four-part series of novellas, with the second due in December. Like I said earlier, do yourself a favor and sign-up for his newsletter. Not only will you get the first two parts of his post-apocalyptic western for free, but you’ll also get to stay up to date on somebody that I believe is going to be a huge up-and-comer in the indie sci-fi/speculative fiction corner. Conversely, you can also buy the individual parts of this serial as they release, which is also a terrific way of supporting this author. Either way, S. Elliot Brandis is one to watch out for.

buy once upon a time at the end of the world at amazon

Free CONSUMPTION ARC – Last Call!

CONSUMPTION COMPLETE

My short horror story, Consumption, is off to my wonderful formatting guru, Glendon Haddix, at Streetlight Graphics.

This means two things: Firstly, this story will be going on sale pretty soon. I haven’t finalized the release date just yet, but I’m eying early October.

Secondly, it also means this is your last chance to request a free copy of this ebook in advance of its sale date. Once I get the final copies in hand, I’ll be e-mailing them out to my advanced readers list.

If you’d like to snag a copy for yourself, head over to this page and scroll down to the form, which you’ll need to complete and submit. Once I receive your entry, you’ll be added to the list.

I won’t bombard with you e-mails, I promise. The only thing I ask in return is for you to post an honest review at Amazon, Goodreads, your blog, whatever, when it goes on sale next month.

This request form will be coming down in a few days, so be sure to get your request in ASAP. Once I’ve received those final ebook files, this offer disappears.

Update 9/25/14 – The final digital files are in and off to those who have requested a copy. Consumption goes on sale Tues., Oct. 14., and you can find order links here.

Consumption is a pretty radical departure from my sci-fi thriller, Convergence, but I’m pretty proud of this one. I had an absolute blast writing it and I hope readers will enjoy it just as much.

Here’s the blurb:

You Are

Reclusive chef Heinrich Schauer has invited six guests to a blind twelve-course tasting menu.

What You Eat

While snow blankets the isolated Swiss valley surrounding his estate, the guests feast eagerly, challenging one another to guess at the secret tastes plated before them.

Meat Is Murder

As they eat, each guest is overtaken by carnal appetites, unaware of their host’s savage plans…or of the creature lurking below.

One thing is clear: There is more on the menu than any of them have bargained for.

Reblog: Author Wednesday – Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks:

Many, many thanks to Patricia Zick for the wonderful interview as part of her on-going Author Wednesday series!

Originally posted on P.C. Zick:

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Welcome to another installment of Author Wednesday. Michael Patrick Hicks joins me today to talk about his first novel Convergence. This science fiction technothriller features Jonah Everitt as your everyday drug addict, memory thief, and killer. There’s bound to be an edge-of-your-seat story in the telling of his journey! convergence-800-cover-reveal-and-promotional

Hello Michael! Your book sounds exciting and chilling at the same time. Tell us a little bit about yourself as a writer before we delve into the plot of Convergence.When did you first discover your voice as a writer?

Probably in high school. I always dabbled with writing as a hobby, but in my senior year of high school–way back when now–I decided to get a little bit serious about it and took a creative writing course. I wasn’t quite prepared for the worlds it opened up for me, and I completely fell in love with the art. I’ve…

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Consumption Cover Reveal

Coming Fall 2014…

CONSUMPTION COMPLETE

Many thanks to Debbie at The Cover Collection for her fine work on this one!

CONSUMPTION is about as far from CONVERGENCE as the speculative fiction genre could allow, I think, and the cover does a nice job of capturing that. I’m trying something really different with this short story as I take a very brief break from science fiction to dip my toes into the deep, dark waters of macabre horror fiction.

Read on for the description and request your free eReader ARC below, and stay tuned for more details soon!


You Are

Reclusive chef Heinrich Schauer has invited six guests to a blind twelve-course tasting menu.

What You Eat

While snow blankets the isolated Swiss valley surrounding his estate, the guests feast eagerly, challenging one another to guess at the secret tastes plated before them.

Meat Is Murder

As they eat, each guest is overtaken by carnal appetites, unaware of their host’s savage plans…or of the creature lurking below.

One thing is clear: There is more on the menu than any of them have bargained for.

Consumption is a 12,000 word (approx.) short story. It contains graphic depictions of sex and violence, and is intended for mature audiences.


Consumption will release on all electronic formats Fall 2014, but you can sign up for a chance to read it before anyone else – for FREE!

Just note that Consumption is a short story and will only be available as an eBook. I’ll be mailing out the major formats to you – .mobi (kindle), epub (Nook/Kobo), and PDF – when they’re formatted and finalized.

Fill out the form below, drop a comment in the required text box asking for an electronic Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC), and it’s all yours. If you sign up for an ARC, you’ll get a copy of my short horror story at least two weeks before anyone else.

There’s no strings attached – again, this would be completely free for you – however, I would really appreciate you taking the time to provide an honest review when the title launches. I’ll let you know when and where, and you can revel in the glory of having read Consumption and passed judgement on it well before anyone else in the world.

Reblog: Justine Allen’s Book Review: Convergence, by Michael Patrick Hicks

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Michael Patrick Hicks:

Great review of CONVERGENCE by fellow sci-fi author Justine Allen. She writes “… As I have an interest in anything sci-fi, especially books making it through the ABNA rounds, I couldn’t resist. I was not disappointed with my choice, and Michael is another Indie Author who deserves to do well.”

Many thanks for the kind words, Justine. Glad you enjoyed the read!

Originally posted on Justine Allen Writing:

I picked up Convergence through an Indie Author Land author interview. By the way, I frequently use Indie Author Land to pick up new books, as it gives me a sense of what makes the author tick, as well as extra insights into the book.

The book genre is described by the author as follows:

“I think sci-fi readers will find plenty to appreciate here –CONVERGENCEhas the grungy high-tech cyberpunk feel to it, set in a near-future America that’s been shattered by war and political in-fighting. But it’s also a neo-noir-thriller, and rests just as comfortably in the mystery/thriller mould as it does sci-fi. It’s definitely a hybrid-genre read and should appeal to a pretty broad audience.”

Convergence was also an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist in the Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror category. As I have an interest in anything sci-fi, especially books making it through the…

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Guest Post: S. Elliot Brandis, “It’s Not The End Of The World”

S. Elliot Brandis is a writer I came into contact with thanks to KBoards. I was immediately taken by his description for his debut novel, Irradiated (part one of The Tunnel Trilogy), and have been patiently waiting for the release of its follow-up, Degenerated. The good news is that the latter is now available, and both can be had for the uber-cheap introductory price of only 99c for a limited time. Two books for less than two bucks. Go buy them immediately!

If you’re wondering whether Irradiated may be up your alley or not, check out my review. If you’re a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, I think it’s a pretty safe purchase. The story is solid, and Elliot has a damn strong writing voice and a style I really dig. To top it off, those Jason Gurley covers are beauties. All in all, it’s a top-notch package.

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buy irradiated at amazon
buy degenerated at amazon

I’m really happy to have Elliot posting here today, so let’s get on with it. Here’s his article, “It’s Not The End Of The World.” Enjoy!


 

It’s Not The End Of The World

Think of post-apocalyptic fiction, and what do you see? Zombies, bombs, disease, disaster, war? Maybe you see barren landscapes, or bones jutting from emaciated bodies. Whatever it is, I bet it’s unpleasant.

It would be easy to think, then, that post-apocalyptic fiction is about one thing: fear. Indeed, fear is deeply ingrained in the genre. Our stories tap into our fear of the future, of human nature, of what happens when it all goes wrong. However, fear is only half of the equation.

If you distil the genre down into core elements, what you’ll find are two competing emotions: fear and hope. They are the heart of the genre, it’s defining feature. The balance between the two changes, but the conflict between them is always there.

Consider The Walking Dead, in all of its guises. It taps into many of our fears. Our fear of dying, and of losing loved ones. Our fear of fellow man, and the darkness that may lay hidden deep in their hearts, waiting for a chance to surface. It also raises questions about ourselves. If you were pushed to the edge, would you still act in a way that’s moral? Or would you compromise your morals to save yourself and your family? What is more is more important? But, on the other hand, it’s also a show about hope. The hope that if we tough it out and try to work together—maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe we can make a new start, forge new relationships, and persevere. The hope pushes us forward, through all the darkness.

Even the darkest works have this glimmer of hope. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is often described as bleak, perhaps even ‘hopeless’. But I disagree—there is hope. The man and his son are “carrying the fire”. He instils this idea in his son—they are amongst the last flickers of humanity, it’s final chance. Without this sliver of hope, as slim as it is, I doubt that the book would work. It is a trickle of oxygen in an otherwise suffocating world. And, as bad as that novel may make us feel, it also makes us think that perhaps, just perhaps, there is merit in our sheer doggedness.

So, we arrive to the title. Despite the name, post-apocalyptic fiction is not about the end of the world. It’s about our fight to prevent the end of the world. The conflict between hope and fear—the fundamentals of human existence—lay at its core. It’s about our will to survive.

And that’s what makes it so damn good.

Writing Shot

 

S. Elliot Brandis is the author of Irradiated, the first novel in a trilogy. He lives in Brisbane, Australia, and often sets his stories there, too. He loves hearing from readers, and can be found at many locations across the internet.

Website: http://selliotbrandis.com/

Reblog: The Big Idea: Arianne ‘Tex’ Thompson

Michael Patrick Hicks:

I’ve been thinking a bit about the genre sometimes known as “weird western” of late. The concept is one that really strikes a chord with me and I love the idea of a low-tech frontier dealing with supernatural forces. I’d hoped for more from the movie Cowboys & Aliens; after all, six-shooters and horses vs. aliens and UFOs seemed ripe for a truly awesome story. Joe R. Lansdale’s Deadman’s Road is in my TBR pile, and Hunter Shea’s Hell Hole has certainly caught my eye.

Thanks to John Scalzi’s blog, I can now add One Night in Sixes to my list. It sounds dynamite!
Author Arianne ‘Tex’ Thompson writes, “But as nervous as I am about this Big Idea and how it will be received, the even-bigger one behind it – that is, the push for a more inclusive bookshelf, and the importance of being able to re-imagine our own history without sweeping the uncomfortable bits under the rug – is one that I am really excited about. I hope you will be too.”

I certainly am. And the quote drawing a quick comparison to Stephen King’s The Dark Tower doesn’t hurt any, either! Be sure to check out the original post at Whatever.

Originally posted on Whatever:

When you introduce magic into a real-world setting, you don’t only have to deal with the problems that magic introduces — you have to deal with the problems that already existed in that real world setting. When Arianne ‘Tex’ Thompson wanted to introduce magic to an American milieu in One Night in Sixes, she took all of those problems into consideration. Here’s how she made it work.

TEX THOMPSON:

All I can say is that it seemed like a good idea at the time.

“I’m tired of Euromedieval fantasy!” I thought. “I’m tired of swords and castles and straight white monocultures. I’m going to write a fantasy about MY country, and MY history, with eleventeen kinds of people rubbing shoulders – like in real life! – and it’s going to be AMAZING.”

And by “amazing”, I must have meant “an absolute landmine of racism, imperialism, slavery and genocide.” Because…

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Advanced News On My Next Release And How To Get It For FREE

Over the rest of this summer, I’ll be putting the finishing touches on a short horror story called Consumption. I’m excited for you all to read this, and I have a feeling it may be pretty divisive so I’m really looking forward to your feedback, both good and bad! It’s a far cry from Convergence, both tonally and genre-wise, but still firmly rooted in the speculative-fiction category.

Coming in at nearly 12,000 words, this is a dark, adult piece that revolves around six guests who have been invited to a blind twelve-course tasting meal. Of course, they have no idea what they’re in store for, nor do they realize the true nature of that peculiar tasting meat plated before them. Not until it’s far too late, at least. I think it’s a pretty fun food-gore monster mash-up, although you might not want to read this one on a full belly…

You can find more about it on this page, and while you’re there feel free to sign up for a FREE Advanced eReader Copy of Consumption. I only ask that if you do sign up, please leave an honest review when the story launches in the fall. I’m planning for an October release and hope to send out the ARCs in late September/early October time-frame, at least two weeks prior to the eBook’s official release.

Stay tuned for more news soon! I’ll be revealing the cover art later this summer, a few looks behind the scenes, and getting the official release date locked down. In the meantime, you can read the official description, check out an excerpt, and, of course, sign up for your free early release edition here!

And, if you want to try out my work for cheap right now, Convergence is still on sale for only 99 cents for a few more days. Time is running out, though, so be sure to get your copy ASAP!