Changing Covers #SummerZombie

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When the first Dying Days book came out all those many, many years ago (April 2011) I had no idea it would become a success. The series literally kept me going financially when I was still having doubts about doing this writing thing full-time. I just wanted to write another zombie story. After writing Highway To Hell I knew there was more story to tell in this world.

About halfway through Dying Days I knew there was going to be a backstory for Darlene Bobich but I had no idea if this would be a series or a standalone until I came to the end.

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Looking back, I could’ve easily kept the story going and added another 20k to it. But I wanted a series because I suddenly had ideas for all of these characters and more.

The problem with being a total pantser (instead of an outliner or whatever the cool way of saying it is) was the fact I asked for a second cover with no real understanding on building this as a brand or a series potential readers might immediately recognize as one big story.

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To further confuse you I added in other side books like Dying Days: Origins, Still Dying and the aforementioned Highway To Hell with two books in each of those.

All with different cover ideas (besides zombies, obviously) and not with any understanding of branding or making it easy for a potential reader to figure out the order of the series. For those who care, here is actually the DYING DAYS ORDER to make it a bit easier, although you don’t have to read it in this exact order if you don’t want. If you only ever read the main Dying Days series you’re still good, but the other side stories are damn cool. Trust me. Not biased. 

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I finally saw the light… well, actually my wife did first. She noticed at conventions how the smart authors branded their series so it was easy to see how many books were in each series and they were all part of the same series. Similar covers, same fonts, basic ideas to make the reader know there was more than one book. As a kid I was a huge fan of series, especially fantasy. I have over 150 of the Forgotten Realms books in paperback still, and they all have a different cover but a setup that lets you know they are all in the same series and world. 

Dying Days covers have been updated (the main series, anyway) and I can tell you now… there will be 9 books. When the 9th book is released will it be the last? Not really sure yet. I still have 3 books to write. Jack Wallen did the covers based on my idea and I could not be happier. 

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I’m also seeing a big increase in sales and especially page reads in the Kindle Unlimited program with the series, which is what the goal was. 

Other authors have done the same thing, which is so much easier when you self-publish a series. You get bored with a cover and you get another one. I never thought it would do much for my sales but it definitely has. I’m also finding loyal fans wanting to purchase the old, out of print covers now, too. Something I never thought would happen. 

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What book series out there did you read because they changed or updated the covers and why? I’d really like to know.

Armand Rosamilia

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Teaser: Shawn Chesser #SummerofZombie

Ghosts:

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

Shawn Chesser

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Prologue

Trying to become one with the massive Douglas fir, Raven squatted and pressed her back hard against its gnarled trunk. With the unpleasant sensation of coarse bark grating her skin through the thin tee shirt she’d thrown on during her hasty retreat from the compound, she strained mightily in the dark to hear anything over her heartbeat and labored breathing.

Finally, after a few seconds spent listening and probing the dark with her eyes for any signs of movement from the direction of the footpath leading to the grass-covered clearing, she heard twigs cracking and the hollow thuds of plodding, unsteady footsteps.

Then, seemingly from all around, she heard the ubiquitous rasps—like dried cornstalks rustling in a stiff breeze—of determined first turns on the hunt.

Stay here, her mom had hissed a beat prior to melting into the night, clad only in white panties and bra, minus the usual stubby carbine which was still in two pieces, an integral part having been dropped and lost in the deep grass hours earlier. In its place, clutched in Brook’s fist as she left to become the hunter, was the black pistol she had dragged hastily from the holster still belted to the pair of pants she’d been forced to leave without.

Goose flesh welled up on Raven’s forearms and rippled down her sides. She felt the rapid-fire thump, thump, thump of her heart threatening to leap from her ribcage. Her ears burned hot and her body heaved with each drawn breath.

Focusing on the moonlight-dappled game trail a dozen feet to her fore, she pulled her knees to her chest, held her breath, and strained to hear the sounds of the living: hard breathing, whispered words, a volley of gunfire; anything but the screams of the dying to let her know she was not alone.

But the latter came first. A shrill keening wail that set the hairs on her arms on end. It ceased after just a few seconds, but the echo careening through the forest lasted nearly as long as the shiver-inducing real thing.

Let Sasha have your rifle, her dad had said before leaving the Army base in Colorado. We’ll get you another after we get to the Eden compound, Mom had said. Famous last words thought the twelve-year-old, her barely clothed body throwing an involuntary shiver. Lot of good it did her, thought Raven, fairly certain that the death knell had belonged to Sasha.

She couldn’t fathom how things had gone so wrong so quick. One second she was asleep, warm under the covers, and the next she was being yanked from her bed in the dark by a pair of frantically grabbing hands. Then the light snapped on and her mom was ushering her out and grabbing the weapon. Strangely, as she sat nestled against the tree trunk, she couldn’t remember her mom saying a word, merely pointing to what was happening outside.

Gunshots in the dark snapped Raven back to the situation at hand. Three shots, she thought. Sounds of the living. But the gunfire that she’d wished for had only summoned more dead from the surrounding woods. Oblivious of the trail, they crashed through the underbrush moaning, hissing, their numb bodies snapping off low hanging branches, the sharp reports making Raven jump.

Then her mom returned, two blurs of white cotton demarcating the tanned skin, black mane flowing in her wake. The pistol was thrust out in front with orange licks of flame lancing from the muzzle, the sharp reports quickly swallowed up by the nearby foliage.

The hollow thuds of infected bodies hitting the forest floor were suddenly interrupted by a creak of metal on metal that carried on the night air from the compound. Looking that way, Raven picked up indistinct male voices, giving her a modicum of hope. But the scene that she saw when she shifted her gaze back to her mom crushed it instantly. Took the air from her lungs. Gasping, she saw her mom being yanked to the ground. Claw-like hands were twisted into her hair and more were reaching from the gloom, the dirt- and blood-crusted nails carving a jagged road map on her smooth skin.

The pistol bucked twice then suddenly went silent as a dozen shadowy forms piled on. Even in the dark Raven could see that her mom was doomed. Caught between the overwhelming urge to run into the fray unarmed or bolt and save her own life, discretion won out and she chose the latter.

With the metallic tang of freshly spilt blood hitting her nose, Raven witnessed the woman who had brought her into the world fighting for her life. Lashing out. Blows landed on decayed flesh to no effect. The struggle lasted for a second or two until finally, mouth locked into a silent O, all of the fight left Brook’s petite form. As the dead rent flesh from her blanching extremities, her heart continued beating, sending blood sluicing from a gaping neck wound. It pooled around her head, black like a crow’s wing, then shiny runners broke free and ran downslope, crisscrossing the dirt path in front of Raven’s curled toes.

Terrified, she stood to run and was instantly tripped up on a knotty root angling away from the trunk. Eyes still fixed on her escape route, she went down like a base runner stealing second, face first, arms outstretched to cushion her fall.

While still airborne two things happened simultaneously. She screamed, shrill and high-pitched with a lot of lung behind it. Then, as quickly as it erupted from her chest, the soul-wrenching sound was cut off by what seemed like a kid’s entire sandbox worth of dirt, pebbles, and pine needles, as gravity brought her back to earth face first.

Through her side vision she saw the monsters’ heads turn in unison. With steaming entrails in their greedy clutches, they rose together and began a slow trudge in her direction.

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The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 30+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser…and pick up some great swag as well!

Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them!

#SummerofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

“Dying Days: Origins 2” Presale until November 11th #dyingdays

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Because I’m really nice and I can do whatever I want (I’m a delight to be around!), I’ve put the next Dying Days release, Dying Days: Origins 2, up for pre-sale on Amazon for the ridiculously low price of 99 cents. 

But it will only be this fantastic price until the release date of November 11th 2014… then it will go to the regularly scheduled price of $2.99. So it would make sense to spend less than a buck (a penny less but still less) and get it while its hot. 

And for every 10,000 pre-sales I will be giving away a live gerbil… as an added bonus!*

DYING DAYS: ORIGINS 2

 

The prequel tale to David Monsour, featured in Dying Days 2 zombie novella as well as short stories set in the Dying Days world.

Includes two bonus short stories as well! Plus author’s notes

*Total lie. Who the hell wants a gerbil anyway?