Fine Art Friday – The Photoshop Doodle

This one is an example of what happens late at night when one is “doodling” in Photoshop.  It is always a good idea to play I think – we often learn the possibilities that way!  So doodle away!  – Larry Winslett

Find Larry Winslett on Facebook and Flickr.  His photos are available as prints and fine art cards.

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For previous Fine Photo Friday submissions, go here.

Interested in submitting your work to be featured on Fine Photo Friday? Go to this Facebook account and send in your submission via message!

Win a free sci-fi book – Darkness Between the Stars – No Strings Attached

Hey you.

Do you like sci-fi or fantasy books?

Cool.

Click this link for your chance to win a Kindle version of Darkness Between the Stars.

If you like the book, please review it.

Thanks!

2 Great Atlanta Art Shows You’ll Want to Attend

Hi there everyone.

This March, I’ll be featuring original paintings by myself and Tahina Morrison at two amazing events in Atlanta.

These will be our first public art shows ever. We’ll be revealing several of our darkest, sexiest, and wildest pieces yet.

Two dates you need to remember – March 9th & March 16th

Two art shows you should commit to memory – Atlanta Pancakes & Booze Art Show / Chocolate & Art Show Atlanta

Pancakes & Booze – Friday, March 9th

And…

Chocolate & Art – Friday, March 16


We’ll have a featured gallery and prints at each show.

You’ll probably see something along the lines of…

…and more!

 


We really hope to see you! If for no other reason than free pancakes and conversation.

For updates, follow me on Facebook.

Get into our art here.

J Edward Neill

A Scary Short Story Collection

In the old world city of Ellerae, one person goes missing every day.
Poor little Mia doesn’t stand a chance.
Or does she?

Let the Bodies – A creepy follow-up to chilling tale, Old Man of Tessera – appears in anthology book UnCommon Evil – Release date Feb 20th, 2018.

Preorder Uncommon Evil right here.

Why Must I Art?

 


It’s 11:30 PM on a Monday night. The wind howls against my glass-paneled door. The branches of an old oak scrape against the roof. A little black cat named Bacon makes figure-eights around my ankles.

My concentration never breaks.

I’m in a zone, and nothing in the world can touch me.

It’s on nights like these, with a glass of scotch in hand and a Hans Zimmer soundtrack thrumming, I’m happiest. My rickety wooden easel stands before me, and my paintbrush flies. I can’t quite remember the exact moment I decided to start making art again. As a kid and a teenager, I’d done the same, but many years have passed since then. I’d almost forgotten what it feels like to shut the world out and make pictures.

What am I doing here?

Recapturing my youth?

Striving to be the next Van Gogh or modern-day Michelangelo?

Gunning for likes on Facebook?

Nope. None of these.

The music drops off into a somber violin piece. It’s something by Olafur Arnalds. I’ve just messed up while drawing the curve of a woman’s lower lip, and my eraser is on the move. Lower lips are hard sometimes, especially when drawing them from a side-view perspective. But I’ll get it right. Another sip of Balvenie, and I’ve fixed it. Instead of pouty, she looks deadly serious. Just wait til I add her horns:

Princess Oblivia

I don’t have to do art. I want to. I do it because I love it, I think. But sometimes, just sometimes, I feel like an imposter. I’m not classically trained. I don’t have a specific job in the field. No one will ever ask me to illustrate their comic book, draw their company logo, or paint a portrait of their dog. It’s a good thing, too. Commissions can mean big money for some artists, but I just can’t do it. I can’t. I paint what I want to paint. If that’s not good enough, so be it.

And I definitely don’t want to paint someone’s dog.

It’s late now. Late, late. My kid, the G Man, has curled up on the couch and fallen asleep with his favorite book in hand. It’s a Calvin & Hobbes anthology. Everyone’s kid should read it. The art is neat, Calvin is hilarious, and there’s a bit of philosophy paired with every little panel. Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes’ creator) is pretty much a genius. With a few pen strokes and splash of philosophy, he’s made his art come alive. He fills a need we didn’t even know we had.

And maybe that’s why I’m painting. To satisfy some philosophical need. To ponder my existence while I paint. To separate myself from the world so completely that nothing else exists besides my tiny atmosphere of music, liquor, and art.

My phone is silent. I don’t want to hear it ring…or even vibrate. The world can go ahead and end. I’ll be happy if I’m the last to know.

I don’t have cable TV, satellite, or Netflix. I don’t want to consume everyone else’s creativity. I need to embrace my own.

I’m tired. I’m tipsy. The bones in my hands sing with pain from pounding on a punching bag earlier in the day.

But my paintbrush is steady.

…and the table beside me is a mess.

Truth is, when I decided to start creating again, art wasn’t my first choice. Some thousand years ago – or maybe it was only fifteen – I decided the best way to escape was to write books. Long books. Sloppy existential fantasy books no one would actually want to read. If I’m honest, I did it to escape my marriage. My life. My responsibilities. Everything.

But writing didn’t bring me peace. Turns out, while making words is great for the mind, it tends to injure the soul. Long stretches of solitude tucked away in a black room can unsettle even the most steadfast heart. And the time commitment, often several months for even the most pedestrian-length book, is all-consuming. It hurts. Sometimes a lot.

Art, on the other hand…

In a few hours, one can draw something beautiful. And one can be at utter peace while doing so.

Given a full night, an artist can conceive a surreal world and splash it onto a canvas. While sipping wine, listening to music, and carrying on a rich conversation with anyone in the room.

And in a week…well…

Art can be whatever its maker desires. It’s a quick commitment, short and satisfying. It’s a month-long project, with each session bringing a creator visibly closer to the ecstasy of completion. It’s a study of pencil strokes, the movement of watercolor across paper, or the feel of broad lashes of a brush thick with scarlet paint.

I’m no fan of poetry. At least not the kind that uses words. But perhaps art is poetry of another kind. The poetry of motion. The passion of turning shapeless blobs of paint into visible, touchable emotion.

…or sometimes just pretty girls with demon horns surrounded by coins.

Lately I’ve been co-painting. I’ve paired with a fellow artist to create things I’d have never thought of on my own. It’s just another reason making art is sometimes a more powerful elixir for one’s self than writing literature. Writing or painting by oneself can be self-restricting. It can lead one to fall into a creative vacuum.

But art made in the company of other artists…it’s like a conversation in a crowded room. It’s fluid. It allows ideas to flow uninhibited. She sculpts something, and I give it color. I draw a tree, a woman, or a demon, and she makes it real.

If you’ve never tried it, invite your friends over to paint with you. Pour something delicious into a glass, silence your phones, set Spotify to random, and fall into your art together. Doesn’t matter how seriously you take it. Chances are, you’ll feel all your stresses melt away.

Maybe that’s the reason. Maybe…

Melting the world, escaping into a 16″ x 20″ piece of stretched canvas, forgetting about your pain, your job, your mortgage. Maybe it’s not about the actual art, but the catharsis. The quick creation of worlds more appealing than our own. Or the exorcism of our fears by painting something terrifying…and realizing our imaginations are more powerful than reality.

My co-artist, Tahina. Her smile is divine. Her hat is…questionable.

It’s morning now. I’m crawling out of bed, and I’m slow to greet the world. My head hurts, my knuckles are sore, and it’s cold in here.

I don’t really want to wake up.

But I know if I do, there’s a canvas downstairs awaiting me. It’s blank and ready to be filled with shadows.

Once I pick up my favorite brush, I’ll be hooked. The sun will rise, the music will play, and I’ll fall away from this world.

…and into my own.

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J Edward Neill

Fine Photo Friday – Peregrine Falcon

 

This week’s photo is a lesson in remembering to look around you – all around you.  I was photographing Sandhill Cranes on a Tennessee Lake at some distance when I looked up and sitting right above me was this Peregrine Falcon looking down at me.  So don’t forget to look up, behind and all around.  You never know what’s sitting there.  – Larry Winslett

Find Larry Winslett on Facebook and Flickr.  His photos are available as prints and fine art cards.

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For previous Fine Photo Friday submissions, go here.

Interested in submitting your work to be featured on Fine Photo Friday? Go to this Facebook account and send in your submission via message!

101 Easy Ways to Get Into a Political Argument

“Libtard!”

“Snowflake!”

“Orange-haired buffoon!”

You’ve seen these ridiculous comments on your Facebook feed. On Twitter. And pretty much everywhere else on the internet.

And now, the most inflammatory arguments in the world are all packed into one little book.

Introducing: 101 Ways to Fight About Politics.

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Includes 101 prompts and questions to help you and your frenemies fight to the death enjoy a spirited political argument.

Ten sample questions are right here.

Start your argument today!

 

10 Ways to Start a Political Fight

Short of walking up to someone on the street and dumping a bucket of cold water on their head…

…the best way to start a fight is and always has been to launch a political discussion.


Is it Hypocritical to…

 Denounce global warming while driving a gas-guzzling truck?

Complain about society’s addiction to social media via Facebook?

Talk poorly about social welfare programs while driving on government-paid roads which are patrolled by gov-paid police?

Complain about the government after not voting in recent elections?

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Awesome! Malevolent! Superfluous!

Preferably in the company of at least one other person, use exactly three words to describe the current Congress (or Parliament) which exists in your country.

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Death by Catcalling

 In your own words, define what you believe Sexual Harassment means.

Do the same for Sexual Assault.

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Up a Creek…

 There’s been a terrible war overseas.

Your nation isn’t directly involved.

But…

Two-hundred thousand refugees have fled this war.

They speak no English.

Their skill sets are unknown.

They need a place to live, or else most of them will die of starvation and disease.

What percentage of these refugees would you invite to live in your nation?

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Simplicity

In ten words or fewer, state what you want your government to do for you.

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The Right to Arm Bears

 You’ve been selected by your government to create a brand-new modern-day Bill of Rights.

In this bill, you’ll decide what basic rights are legally granted to each and every citizen of your nation.

What are the first three items you’ll add to the bill?

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Juggle Three Flags while Kissing a Baby

 List the top five things every potential immigrant should have to know or do in order to be granted full citizenship in your nation.

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Word Smack

 For each of the items below, say the first word that comes to your mind upon reading it:

Libtard

Fake News

Republitard

Snowflake

Communist

Leftist

Nazi

White Power

Black Lives Matter

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The Wage Gauge

 The national minimum-wage for full-time workers should be:

$ ______________

 

Zingers

Choose one word to describe each of the following people:

Hillary Clinton

Jimmy Carter

Abraham Lincoln

Adolf Hitler

Winston Churchill

Justin Trudeau

Hugo Chavez

Donald Trump

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If you’re thinking these questions are biased, you’re wrong.

They’re not.

The author doesn’t give a rip about partisan politics.

But…

If you feel like arguing even more, go here.

If you prefer to keep the peace, go here.

Fine Photo Friday – Frosty in Dahlonega

Frosty in Dahlonega – Larry Winslett

Find Larry Winslett on Facebook and Flickr.  His photos are available as prints and fine art cards.

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For previous Fine Photo Friday submissions, go here.

Interested in submitting your work to be featured on Fine Photo Friday? Go to this Facebook account and send in your submission via message!

Making Fun of all my Books

A few weeks ago I got super sarcastic with my list of alternative movie blurbs.

Now that I’ve made fun of everyone else’s artistic work, it’s time I turn the cannon on myself.

Here’s everything I’ve ever written, but with smartass descriptions.

Have fun…


Darkness Between the Stars – An uneducated farmboy happens to notice the world’s about to end while fixing his father’s tractor.

Shadow of Forever – The aforementioned farmboy picks a fight with a gang of space vampires, accidentally triggering an interstellar war.

Eaters of the Light – An immortal blue-haired girl decides she’s not allowed to have sex until she eradicates every alien species in the universe.

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1

Down the Dark Path – Book I – A redheaded girl decides the best way to improve her social status is to follow a murderer into the woods. Meanwhile, a guy with a beard builds a shitload of boats.
2Down the Dark Path – Book II – Rather than live happily in a beautiful city where everyone loves her, a lonely woman stalks a clueless soldier directly into the battle he’s trying not to fight. The soldier’s friend (his hopelessly lousy wing-man) starts killing everyone with a purple sword.

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3

Down the Dark Path – Book III – A bearded douchebag uses his sword to turn his enemies’ country into Seattle. Meanwhile, five guys try to end a war by marching through a swamp and bitching endlessly about the weather.

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 4
Down the Dark Path – Book IV – After ruining a bunch of people’s lives, a woman decides to marry a creepy old wizard. In a petty act of revenge, her boyfriends and their cohorts sneak into the wizard’s house and start breaking his stuff.

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Reality is Best Served with Red Wine – A lonely writer glamorizes his alcoholism using uncomfortable stories from his childhood.

Life & Dark Liquor – Already sloshed from too much wine, an author lurks in his kitchen while pounding scotch and talking about his grandma.

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101 Questions for Women Cover

101 Questions for Women – A sexist pig attempts to disguise his chauvinism by approaching women with inappropriate questions.

101 Questions for Men Cover

101 Questions for Men – Too terrified to go out and get laid, a guy poses questions about sex and beer to other guys.

SleepersImageForBlogging

The Sleepers – After a family trip to the zoo, a rich kid lets his dad talk him into genocide.

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Let the Bodies – A little girl counts her grandpa’s money while watching everyone else die.

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The Skeleton Sculptor – Rather than actually pick up a sword and fight, a lazy soldier writes a diary about all his missing friends.

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The Circle Macabre – A cranky woman swears off men and annoys the locals in her bid to become a Ghostbuster.

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101 Deeper Darker Cover

101 Deeper, Darker Questions for Humanity – Not content to ruin just one party, the asshole returns with the goal of depressing even the most optimistic people.

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101 xxxy Questions Front Cover

101 Sex Questions – A sex-addict with no relationship skills breaks into normal people’s bedrooms and begs to watch them do nasty stuff.

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  Dark Moon Daughter New Kindle CoverDark Moon Daughter – Thinking it’ll be the life change she needs, a red-headed woman dyes her hair black and starts having an affair.

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NetherKingdomWebLg-331x500

Nether Kingdom – Fully gothed-out, a woman wanders the countryside in search of her dad’s house. Meanwhile, a guy starts a war just so he can have a séance in a cave.

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41X6vKWTtJL__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

444 Questions for the Universe – The party-wrecking A-hole returns, compiling a crapload of philosophical BS to annoy and frustrate his friends.

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The Ultimate Get to Know Someone Quiz – Too cheap to hire a proper cover artist, an author asks his five-year old son to paint a book cover.

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Big Red Shiny Buttons – There aren’t any actual buttons in this book. It’s really just a bunch of questions designed to help parties be 4% less dull.

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101 Reasons and 101 More Reasons to Break Up – A tipsy loner harasses people at the bar while attempting to collect bizarre break-up stories.

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Lys & the Heart Stopper – A cute medieval co-ed gets out of jail and decides to party with a mass murderer.

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 The Hecatomb – An art lover and his offspring stay up late at night to torment local villagers and build Legos out of dead stuff.

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Hollow Empire Front Cover

Hollow Empire – Night of Knives – Five homeless people with crappy hygiene do their best to avoid living normal lives. The five include an overweight leper, two lovers who refuse to have sex, and the world’s most negligent mom.

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101-Questions-for-Humanity-333x500

101 Questions for Humanity – An asshole who never studied philosophy in college decides to ruin everyone’s buzz by asking complicated questions.

101 Questions for Midnight Front Cover

101 Questions for Midnight – The aforementioned asshole shows up really late and craps on the party. This time he brings a pile of immoral questions to pester everyone with.

DoorNeverDreamedPaperback1

A Door Never Dreamed Of – Two racists decide to impress their girlfriends by using high-tech gadgets to slaughter a bunch of people who can’t even move.

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The Little Book of BIG Questions – This guy didn’t even graduate college, and yet he thinks he can match wits with Socrates and Stephen Hawking.

101 Questions for Couples – Two people with zero romantic experience pair up to write a book about love, sex, and what it might be like to not be utterly alone every night.

101 Questions for Single People – After being swiped left too many times on Tinder, a guy groans about how hard it is to land a date.

Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows – A morbidly obese guys runs a day-care center, a pothead decides to get pizza, a woman starts dating the dude she murdered, an arguing couple kills in the name of train-hopping, and much, much more…

 

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I’d love to say these were all jokes and that none of these descriptions are accurate.

But let’s not kid ourselves…

J Edward Neill

Art Collection – Dem Bones by J Edward Neill & Tahina Morrison

Over the years, we’ve sculpted and painted more skulls, skeletons, and bones than we can recall.

Some might say Tahina Morrison and I are obsessed with the macabre.

Maybe not.

Maybe so…

Here’s some of our favorites:

 

Find more skeletal art right here.

Originals

Prints

Instagram

Facebook

 

Fine Photo Friday – Under my Wing

Under My Wing – Larry Winslett

“Under My Wing.”  Another bird shot, Canadian Geese at a TVA lake in Tennessee.  Fast shutter speeds are the key to capturing any wildlife – especially birds in flight.

Find Larry Winslett on Facebook and Flickr.  His photos are available as prints and fine art cards.

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For previous Fine Photo Friday submissions, go here.

Interested in submitting your work to be featured on Fine Photo Friday? Go to this Facebook account and send in your submission via message!

Selling the Last of my Shadows

This gallery contains 14 photos.

 The ORIGINAL canvas art for J Edward’s most popular paintings are now available. The paintings are here. Interested buyers should reach… Read more

Wildflowers of Stone Mountain

Larry Winslett, an award-winning nature photographer and teacher, and his wife Julie capture hundreds of beautiful flowers in their book – Wildflowers of Stone Mountain.

In gorgeous photographs on high quality paper, Wildflowers of Stone Mountain showcases over a hundred flowers. It’s a field guide for nature enthusiasts as well as casual lovers of beautiful photography.

Just a tiny sample of the beautiful photography you’ll find.

Wildflowers of Stone Mountain is available online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and www.larrywinslettphotography.com.

Its convenient pocket size makes it an excellent trail companion, not only for Stone Mountain, but also for trails throughout north Georgia.

7 Video Games I want to Play in 2018

Ten years ago, my annual list of want-to-play video games would’ve been twenty games long, maybe even thirty.

But dad life has narrowed my expectations. To squeeze in max gaming time, I have to seek out the best of the best upcoming games.

It’s not easy to carve away a ton of good games to get the list down to seven. It’s a dirty job.

…but somebody’s got to do it.

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7 Video Games I Want to Play in 2018


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Crackdown 3

Wait, you mean it’s got Terry Crews? Ok, no…that’s not the only reason I need to play this game. The original Crackdown is one of my favorite open-world games of all time. I’ve never been a Grand Theft Auto guy or a Saint’s Row lover. I prefer my open world action cut straight to the chase. Ridiculously big explosions? Check. Fun boss lairs to invade and annihilate? Yep. Freedom to destroy stuff in any way I choose without annoying plotlines getting in my face? Sign me up.

If Crackdown 3 has any of these things, I foresee long nights of me on the couch blowing everything to smithereens. One caveat – They’d better have agility orbs. Just sayin’.

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Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Speaking of open world games, this one has me hyped. Long have I craved a medieval game with some sense of realism. Long have I desired to fear for my life with every axe-stroke, flying arrow, and falling sword. Kingdom Come promises me this realism. Events within the game are real-time, meaning they happen whether or not the player chooses to get involved. The HUD, always an obnoxious staple of RPG’s, is promised to be minimal. Take an arrow to the knee? Well…just one is probably enough to kill you. I’m hoping it’s easier than Dark Souls, but only slightly. And while I loved Skyrim, I crave the sort of realism most RPG’s have avoided.

Here’s to hoping Kingdom Come: Deliverance…delivers on its promises.

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Shadow of the Colossus: the Remake

In the past twenty years, few games have genuinely impacted me beyond my immediate time spent playing them. Most titles are pick up/play/forget games. They’re fun, but nothing transcendent. Not so, Shadow of the Colossus. Upon playing the original game, I felt as if I’d fallen into another world. It was a beautiful, haunting place. And now it’s back.

I was willing to buy a Nintendo Switch just to play Breath of the Wild. And so it goes for Shadow of the Colossus. I’ll pick up a PS4 just to play it. And yes, I know the PS4 has plenty of great exclusive titles. Shadow is just the gateway.

I. Can’t. Wait.

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Vampyr

Yeah, yeah. I know. Vampyr was supposed to come out in 2017. I was all hyped up about it, as I talked about here. So anyway, I figure the game deserves my patience. The idea of being allowed to turn good or evil in an open world setting pleases me. Will I go all out Dracula? Or will the in-game plot convince me to tread lightly on the throats of humanity? Set in a gothic-looking London, Vampyr will be a release-day purchase for me.

Assuming it ever gets released. 🙂

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Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Most gamers will fondly recall the stunningly beautiful game, Ori and the Blind Forest. With deep shadows, sharp lighting, and crisp, smooth controls, the original Ori proved to be the 2D adventure game we all needed. And while I’ll admit some parts of it were pretty challenging, it hooked me all the same. My kid and I stayed up wayyyy too late on many a school night bouncing around Ori’s deep, dark woods.

I don’t know much about upcoming title Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Details are scant and the release date isn’t set in stone.

One thing I do know?

I’m getting this game.

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Sea of Thieves

It’s the kind of good-looking game that makes me want to take a leap of faith. Stunning visuals, bombastic gameplay, first-person action…it all looks amazing. And while I confess I’m not a guy who’s usually into pirate games, Sea of Thieves looks ready to change my mind.

Things I hope for with this game: A solid single-player campaign. No always-online requirement. No bugs (Microsoft reports it’s allowing the developers to skip the normal certification process.)

If it all comes to fruition, this could the game that propels me into buying an Xbox One.

Time will tell…

 

Metroid Prime 4

Whoa. Ok. Take a deep breath.

Metroid Prime 4 release date – unknown. Gameplay details – not currently available. Screenshots – nowhere to be found. Do I care? No. The Metroid series is the reason I play video games. The original was the first game I played on the old school NES. I’m not too proud to admit I still play it from time to time.

In development for the Switch, Metroid Prime 4 isn’t just the game I want. It’s the game I need. A part of me hopes it’ll return to Samus’ 2D roots. Another part wants the awesome FPS design made so famous by the original Prime series.

Good god, Nintendo. Please release this game in 2018.

Thanks.



Enjoy more of my gaming articles here, here, and here.

J Edward Neill

Dark Artist, Fiction Author, & Coffee Table Philosophy Creator

The First Immortal

The First Immortal

 

I walked the streets of a city I hadn’t seen in two-hundred years.

And I felt thousands of people watching me.

If Sumer’s crowds were passionate, it felt easy to forgive them. They knew me only from the stories they’d read, the outlandish tales their parents had told, and the exaggerations their schools had taught. In their eyes, I was something well beyond human.

‘Callista – Bringer of Light,’ the banners at the light-train station had blazed.

‘Callista – the Savior.’

I’d learned long ago to ignore such things.

Behind glass partitions, amid lush gardens, and atop silver towers, the people cheered me. An entourage of black-suited men led my way, pushing through the crowds as we neared Arcadia’s tallest tower – the Gran Spire. The people wanted more than my fragile half-smile.

But then, they knew nothing of the horrors I’d faced.

I crossed white streets and meandered through a courtyard made of glass. At the bottom of the Gran Spire’s white-marble stairs, I halted. High above, a long line of glass doors remained shut.

“Is all this necessary?” I asked the man beside me. He was young – at most twenty-five years. He’d never left the planet of Sumer. I knew it at a glance.

He’s never even left Arcadia.

“Pardon, m’lady.” He looked nervous despite his black suit and dark sunglasses. “It’s protocol. President Hephast and the Congressional Court want to welcome you in style.”

I sighed.

I’d known his answer before he’d said it.

But I’d been hopeful for something other than cheering crowds beneath the midday suns.

I stood in the entourage’s center, tugging at the collar of my deep blue dress. I hadn’t wanted to wear the sleek, ridiculous Arcadian fashion, but I’d allowed the heralds who’d greeted my landing to convince me otherwise.

“The people will love you,” they’d promised.

“It’s best to look as though you’re one of us.”

I miss the war already, I thought.

And I forgot how warm this planet is.

A dozen times since last I’d stood beneath Sumer’s two suns. I’d died and been reborn. My newest body had only ever known the cold of interstellar Rings and the deep dark of planets long ago murdered by the Strigoi.

And now the light hurts me almost as much as my enemy.

I glanced at the bronze-skinned Arcadians surrounding me. To them, my discomfort must’ve seemed strange.

“M’lady, are you well?” the young man in sunglasses asked me.

“I am. And please don’t call me m’lady.”

“As you wish, m’la— Madame Callista,” he stammered. “What shall I call you?”

Cal,” I said. “I prefer Cal.”

The glass doors at the Gran Spire’s bottom swung open. Out stepped President Hephast and seventeen members of Arcadia’s Congressional Court, all of them decked in garish Arcadian suits. They were old, many well over a hundred years. To them, standing at the stairwell’s bottom, I must’ve looked childlike.

Yet I’m far older than anyone here.

“Callista Lightbringer.” President Hephast boomed across the courtyard. The amplifiers on his collar projected his voice loud enough for everyone within a half-kilometer to hear.

The crowds fell into reverent silence. The entourage of black-suited men knelt all around me. I stood alone among them, the only soul in Arcadia gazing up at Hephast and his assembly.

“Please, Lady Lightbringer,” Hephast called to me, “come forth.”

With a sigh, I climbed the stairs. My heeled shoes clicked on the glass, and my dress’s train dragged behind me.

Why all this in the middle of the day? I winced against the light. Why not at night?

Symbolic. Must be.  

I arrived at Hephast. Standing just one step above me, he looked older than I’d expected. His bald scalp was tanned to a golden shine by Sumer’s suns. His shoulders were narrow, his fingers long and thin, and his eyes hanging in his sockets, busy yet so very tired.

Humanity had found many ways to extend their lives.

But only I had managed immortality.

“The light, it bothers you?” Hephast saw me wincing.

“It’s been so long,” I said. “And this new body…it’s never been to a sunlit world. It hasn’t yet adapted.”

The old man peered beyond me. I followed his gaze, and found the crowds still kneeling, their eyes averted.

“Wave to them,” said Hephast. “Wave and then join me in my tower. The people have waited so long for you to come. They want to see you happy.”

Happy?

I can’t remember happy.

I faced the crowds and waved to them. A few dared to look up at me, and within moments they all stood and roared with applause. I’d never heard such a noise before. The sound of such overwhelming humanity felt powerful, but empty.

I waved for a full thirty seconds, and then faced Hephast again. All at once, I felt the Congressional Court’s eyes fall upon me. The line of elderly men and women smiled down at me, but not because they loved me.

They smiled because they needed me.

Soldiers clad in powered white armor emerged from the Gran Spire and held open the giant glass doors. Hephast beckoned for me to lead the way, and so I did. Behind me, Arcadia trembled with the cheers of thousands, and then I vanished into the tallest tower humanity had ever built.

Inside, I breathed. The midday heat fell away, and the crowd’s roars went silent. I stood beneath a spinning silver fan whose blades ushered cold air across my face. I closed my eyes and pretended I was still aboard the Sabre, still gliding through the deep darkness between the stars.

If only…

The soldiers stepped aside. Hephast and the seventeen Court members swept toward the Gran Spire’s central hall.

“Come,” Hephast called to me.

I followed.

In a vast white chamber with pale carpets and sharp lights, I settled into the chair they offered me. They put me in the second highest seat, just a half-step below Hephast’s colorless throne. Below us, some hundred chairs sat in a great ring around a table carved of glass.

Every seat was filled.

All eyes were on me.

As I looked into the room, I considered my audience.

These people have never seen me before. They know my stories, but not the truth.

The lights dimmed. Only two still shined.

One above Hephast.

And one above me.

“Welcome to Sumer’s high assembly, Lady Lightbringer,” announced Hephast. With his amplifier still active, his voice spread throughout the room like thunder.

“Thank you.” I gazed forward without expression.

“Before you sits the Arcadian Congressional Court.” He waved his skinny arm. “Also here are delegates from the city of Mercuria, emissaries from Iona and Venya, and members of the Far Court from distant Plutari. They come from all corners of Sumer to hear you speak.”

I gazed at my audience. Their faces, shrouded in shadow, looked shapeless in the dark.

“Forgive me,” I said, “but most of these places…I’ve never heard their names. When I left Sumer more than two centuries ago, the planet hadn’t been fully colonized. Now it seems—”

“We’ve come a long way, Lady Lightbringer,” said someone in the darkness.

Callista,” I corrected him.

“Pardon?” He sounded confused.

“My name – Callista,” I replied. “No one in the fleet calls me Lightbringer. I am…I always have been…Callista.”

Murmurs spread throughout the chamber. The Court’s discomfort hung heavy in the air.

“Callista,” Hephast said my name. “So be it. We’re told you have a full report. If it pleases you, we will hear it now.”

My report arrived years before I did, I wanted to say. You already know everything.

“As you wish.” I nodded.

I reached into my bodice and withdrew a slender silver capsule. I motioned for the nearest attendant, and the nervous young woman took the capsule from my fingers.

“Slide it into your holo-viewer,” I said loud enough for everyone to hear. “You will see what I last witnessed.”

“Wait…” said someone in the dark, “is it—”

“Yes. It’s a vid-capture from Strigoi hive XV Prime,” I said. “From their home-world. Or should I say — the home-world that is no more.”

The Court drowned in a sea of whispers. I heard their voices, faint and full of disbelief, and I allowed myself a smirk.

“…it’s true after all,” one woman said.

“…XV Prime? Their last stronghold in the Milky Way?” uttered a man in the seats below me.

“…she has a vid-capture? We’ll get to see the dark planet?”

The attendant girl looked to Hephast for guidance. He nodded, and the young woman scurried to the projector machine beside his throne.

She slid the silver capsule into the machine.

And we watched the battle unfold:

* * *

“They’ve nowhere to escape,” the young pilot beside me shouted.

“Which means they’ll fight all the harder.” I shook my head.

From the cockpit of my scythe-winged warship – the Sabre, I saw everything:

To the left, the star we’d just created blazed with brilliant yellow light. Even at ten-million kilometers away, the infant sun hurt my eyes to see.

To the right, the bloated Strigoi world XV Prime shuddered beneath the impact of the two-thousand string reprogrammers our fleet had just dropped on its surface. We’d sequenced the string reprogrammers, or S.R.’s, to turn the black substance composing XV Prime’s surface into glass.

If the new star we’d made didn’t kill the dark planet, we’d shatter it instead.

We knew most the S.R.’s would be overwhelmed and reversed by Strigoi death-bots.

“…but they can’t stop every last one.” I grinned in my cockpit. “And when the chain-reaction starts, we’ll break this planet. You’ll see.”

The young pilot stared at XV Prime. The planet’s coal-black surface teemed with Strigoi death-machines, its dark towers housing billions of our enemy.

The poor kid shivered.

He sees them.

They’re coming.  

 I ignited the Sabre’s quantum engine. I felt my chair vibrate and the universe move around me. XV Prime and the infant star became blurs as we accelerated to twenty-thousand kilometers per second. Anything slower, and the Strigoi warships would’ve carved us to tatters. Anything faster, and we’d have moved too far from XV Prime to fight.

“Joff would’ve gone faster.” I grinned.

“Who’s Joff?” my co-pilot asked.

That’s right, I thought, he doesn’t know.

I seized the cockpit control stick, guiding the Sabre between webs of Strigoi death-beams. They weren’t firing at us, but instead at the bigger, more powerful ships in our attack fleet. Red lights flared on the vid-screens, each one indicating a friendly ship’s extermination.

“God, they’re killing us!” the pilot screamed.

Should’ve left him on his home-ship.

No. I saw another twenty red lights illuminate the vid-screen.

If I had, he’d already be dead.

After many hundred years and countless attacks on Strigoi worlds, I’d become a far better pilot than anyone else in the fleet.

And yet…

I’m still not as good as Joff.

I pulled, pushed, and spun the Sabre’s control stick. We weren’t moving through space so much as space spun around us. Whenever I pulled the trigger, streams of missiles tore into the darkness. The Strigoi scythe-ships, their hulls like black, cadaverous bone, dove out of the missiles’ paths.

Not one missile hit its target.

Not that it mattered.

I pulled a second trigger, and all at once the missiles erupted into orbs of light. Spanning a few hundred kilometers each, the orbs burned only a few seconds before collapsing back into shadow.

The Strigoi were made of nightmares, but they’d yet to find a way to survive our newest weapons.

Darkness overwhelms light, our enemy believed.

No.

Light destroys the dark. 

“They’re almost out of ships,” I said to my co-pilot. I looked at him, and I saw the sweat on his forehead, the color drained out of his skin. He looked like a Strigoi had touched him.

But it was only fear that paled my young friend.

“We have to get closer,” I said. “Fire the beacons above their largest city. We’re going in.”

“We’re going down there?” he gasped.

“It’s the same as every other world we’ve destroyed,” I told him. “Now fire the beacons before it’s too late.”

“How many?”

“All of them.”

He hammered a sequence into his half of the Sabre’s console. Nervous wreck though he seemed, he pulled himself together long enough to launch a wave of nearly a thousand light beacons from the compartments beneath our wing.

The tiny spheres ejected themselves into space. Soaring through the darkness behind them, I cut our speed to a few hundred kilometers per second.

XV Prime awaited.

On its surface, seas of black towers stretched to the end of all sights.

The Strigoi swarmed.

Having slain hundreds of their worlds and dozens of their interstellar death-spheres, I was their nemesis. They knew I was coming.

But they can’t stop me.

Can you see, Joff?

Are you watching?

The beacons formed a web a few hundred kilometers above XV Prime’s hugest, blackest city. All at once, they ignited. Strigoi death-beams died in the beacons’ light-storm. Swarms of death-bots soaked up the blinding radiance and disintegrated.

I blinked and saw clouds of ashes.

My eyes hurt in the aftermath.

The dark city had never seen such light before. Thousands of years ago, the Strigoi had stopped the planet’s rotation, cutting it off from the star blazing on its opposite side.

And then they’d killed the star.

And thrived in the shadows remaining.

“No death-bots survived,” I said to the young pilot. “Nothing to stop our Primary S.R.”

“Then can’t we turn around?” He shivered. “The other S.R.’s should be enough, right?”

“No,” I grimaced. “We have to be sure.”

I keyed a quick sequence into the Sabre’s console. A last few death-beams smoked and curled upward from the Strigoi city, but I seized the control stick and swerved just in time.

“Release the Primary S.R.,” I commanded the Sabre.

And she did.

Somewhere in the Sabre’s underbelly, a door slid open. A slender silver projectile, no taller than me and only half as heavy, leapt into the planet’s orbit at quantum speeds. I couldn’t see it, but I felt it in my bones. It was the most powerful weapon we’d ever created.

“…strong enough to turn a half a planet into whatever molecule we want,” the scientist had told me.

“…hydrogen, helium, anything…”

No. None of those, I thought.

Glass.

I want the Strigoi to be glass.

And so it was.

At the moment the S.R. hit, we were already on our way out of XV’s atmosphere. The last of the beacons’ glimmers shielded us from the death-beams, and we soared out into far orbit.

A graveyard awaited us.

Clouds of dark powder floated in the void, the remains of thousands of Strigoi scythe-ships.

Metal spun through the emptiness, sprinkled with the remains of the humans who’d died.

“Look,” I said to the young pilot. “No, not at the dead ships. At the vid screen. See XV Prime? The S.R….it’s working.”

Together, we gazed at the screen. XV Prime’s surface, already cratered from the other, weaker S.R.’s, began to change color. From black to translucent silver, it went, and from hard, inflexible bone to brittle glass. Towers once black and mighty collapsed under their own weight. A full quarter of the planet shattered all at once.

I tried to imagine the sound, but I couldn’t.

God,” the young pilot exhaled.

“They’re finished,” I said. “The new star we made of its sister planet…the smaller S.R.’s burning…the Primary S.R. turning everything to glass. We don’t have anything capable of detecting Strigoi life-signs, but they’re all dead. I can feel it. Can’t you?”

He looked at me with his mouth hanging open.

“Weren’t they already dead?”

“Yeah…well…now they’re dead-dead.” I smiled. “And this was their last world in our galaxy.”

* * *

The hologram in the Gran Spire’s heart flickered and went out.

Having witnessed the spectacular end of XV Prime, Hephast and all the others fell into a deep, satisfying silence.

I wanted it to last forever.

But soon enough, Hephast spoke.

“It’s done,” he shouted. “It’s finished. The Strigoi are dead.”

I opened my mouth to interject, but the Congressional Court erupted into applause. Their raucous cries washed over me, hurting my ears. My new body hadn’t been conditioned for such noise.

“Lightbringer. Lightbringer. Lightbringer,” they chanted.

“The war is over,” they bellowed.

I waited.

And I let them come back to calm.

After five minutes, the clamor died. Hephast called for order, and most of the assembly returned to their seats.

“Lady Lightbringer,” Hephast said to me. “You have done a great deed. For hundreds of years, we have lived in the Strigoi shadow. Many of us never thought it would end. We assumed…no…we knew we would make weapons and send fighters to their doom until the end of all days. And now—”

“All hail Lady Lightbringer,” someone in the assembly cried.

“Our champion,” said another.

“Give her whatever she desires,” shouted still another.

With a wave of his fragile fingers, Hephast quieted the room.

“And so we shall,” he said. “Lady Lightbringer – or Lady Callista, as you like – we shall restore your full citizenship upon Sumer. You shall be given a tower, upon which your name will shine until the end of time. When our people look to the sky and fear no death at Strigoi hands, it is your name which will linger in their minds, and your victory for which monuments numbering in the thousands shall be hewn.”

“President Hephast…” My voice sounded small. “If I may speak…”

“You may,” he said.

“The Strigoi menace in our galaxy is destroyed,” I began. “It’s true. We’ve spent nearly a thousand years making it so. When he – when Joff Armstrong slew the very first Strigoi installation, I never thought it would be possible.”

“And yet here we are,” Hephast raised his slender arms, igniting fresh cheers from the crowd.

“Yes. Here we are.” I raised my voice. “But our galaxy isn’t the only one in which our enemy thrives. We know them to exist in Andromeda.”

Andromeda.” Hephast scoffed. “This too, we have heard. And yet even the Strigoi must know they can never overtake us now. Our scientists have said it will be a hundred-thousand years before our enemy can again marshal enough power to threaten our galaxy. A hundred-thousand years…might as well be a million.”

“Are you saying the war effort will end?” I asked.

The room quieted. I heard only the beating of my own heart.

“There is no war.” Hephast looked down at me. “This very day, we shall send word to the other planets. It is confirmed – the Strigoi are defeated.”

I hung my head. I’d always known what his answer would be, and yet I’d dared to hope otherwise. For all my centuries of wisdom, I often forgot the simplest lesson I’d ever learned:

Hope is a mistake.

* * *

The First Immortal is the opening chapter of upcoming novel – Eaters of the Light.

Eaters of the Light is the sequel to novels, Darkness Between the Stars and Shadow of Forever.

Look for it to hit stores in early 2018.

J Edward Neill

Fine Photo Friday – Sandhill Crane at Sunset

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Sandhill Crane at Sunset – Larry Winslett

 This shot is from Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Reserve in southern New Mexico, a real bucket list location for birders and photographers.  These kind of shots are always the result of high shutter speeds, timing, and a little luck!

Find Larry Winslett on Facebook and Flickr.  His photos are available as prints and fine art cards.

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For previous Fine Photo Friday submissions, go here.

Interested in submitting your work to be featured on Fine Photo Friday? Go to this Facebook account and send in your submission via message!

Thursday Art Assault – Bring the Dark Art!

 Please enjoy two of my recent paintings. The first is Lucifera, which is another angle I painted of this girl.

The second is a quick collaborative 3D piece I worked on with sculptor Tahina Morrison.

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Lucifera

The base sketch. Just pencils on a treated canvas.

Step 2 – Splash watercolors and acrylics on her face (while sipping on bourbon.)

Step 3 – Get crazy with demonic horns.

Lucifera – Finished piece

And here’s a side-angle, right after I varnished her.

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Next up – Skeleton Chair

Skeleton Chair – Tahina Morrison & J Edward Neill

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For more like these, chase me on Instagram.

Or crawl after me on Facebook.

Celebrating 1,000 articles!

Last week, we published our one-thousandth article.

That’s one-zero-zero-zero.

…and here we never thought we’d hit one-hundred.

2017 has been one hell of a year for Tessera Guild. We secured a full-time gaming blogger, Egg Embry. We expanded our Steampunk Fridays series. And we inspired readers with hundreds of paintings, books, crazy lists, and life-bending stories.

With an eye on doing even more in 2018, here’s five of our most popular articles of 2017:

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6 RPG Kickstarters you should Back

Egg Embry erupts onto the Kickstarter coverage scene with his biggest compilation of upcoming games ever!

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Nightmares, Horros, and Visions

Amanda Makepeace primes us for Halloween with a stunning collection of Zdzisław Beksiński art.

Nightmares, Horrors, and Visions

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How Playing D&D Reshaped my Entire Life

An author acknowledges his complete and utter nerd-dom, while also crediting it with inspiring his writing career.

 

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Tales From the Loop – Thoughts About the Best Game I Played at GenCon

John McGuire gushes about a new amazing game at the famous GenCon convention.

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My Mother – The Horse Diver

A woman remembers fondly her mother, a famous horse diver (not kidding!)

My Mother – The Horse Diver

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Come back soon for more articles about art, gaming, movies, books, and life – every single day!

And please enjoy your holiday season.

Sincerely,

J Edward Neill

Fine Photo Friday – Water & Rock

Welcome to the latest edition of Fine Photo Friday.

We’ll be posting one photo every Friday.

This week’s submission is from nature photography specialist, Larry Winslett:

Water and Rock, Maine Coast

How water shots look are always dependent on how you use shutter speed.  This shot is at 1/3 of a second (f14, ISO 100.)  Lens is a Canon EFS18-135.  Somewhere in this shutter speed range often gives a pleasing effect to moving water.  Of course other factors like the speed of the water also play a role in how the image looks.  See more water shots at www.larrywinslettphotography.com

Find Larry Winslett on Facebook and Flickr.  His photos are available as prints and fine art cards.

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For previous Fine Photo Friday submissions, go here.

Interested in submitting your work to be featured on Fine Photo Friday? Go to this Facebook account and send in your submission via message!

Thursday Art Assault – Dark Towers

Creepy gothic cathedrals.

Ancient dark towers.

Fantastical sky-piecing minarets.

Some of these are among my older (and therefore cruder) works.

Others are more recent.

Quality notwithstanding, painting dark towers is among my favorite things to do, second only to drawing attractive women.

Here…

The Last Tower – J Edward Neill

Ocean of Knives – J Edward Neill

Grave Towers – J Edward Neill

Gateway to the Moon – J Edward Neill

Black Light – J Edward Neill

Fortress of the Elder – J Edward Neill

City of Nowhere – J Edward Neill

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For more, go here.

For previous art assaults, go here.

If You’re a Self-Published Author, Here’s 5 Things You Probably Need to do Better

Fact: right now, more published books exist than at any other point in human history.

The reason is simple: the ebook explosion. And yet it’s not just ebooks. Observe Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and any number of a thousand vanity presses, and you’ll find that not only are there more books in print (or potentially in print) than ever before, but the number of authors keeps growing.

Every. Single. Day.

Which means…

…we all need to step up our game.

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Stage 1 – Writing a Marketable Book

If you’re an author with the intention of making money selling books (which you probably shouldn’t bother with) your competition is currently larger than any author has ever faced.

Tomorrow morning, it’ll be greater than it was today.

Next year, the odds will be stacked even higher against you.

And so on…unto the end of the publishing world.

And while the hundreds of ‘I’m not competing with other authors‘ memes are cute and optimistic, the fact is this: If you’re trying to sell books, you’re competing with every other author on the planet.

That’s why Stage 1 – Writing a Marketable Book – is the first and most obvious hurdle to new and established self-published authors. It feels like it should go without saying – if you plan to write, write well. And yet we all know our market. Due to the ease of publishing, the literary world is flooded with weak, poorly-written, badly-edited junk.

And so we’re going to make an assumption. If you’ve clicked this article, and if you’ve read this far, we’re going to assume you’ve written something worth reading. Your book is smart. It’s entertaining. It’s well-edited. If you were a famous author, you’d simply shuttle your new novel to the publisher and watch the sales and reviews stack up.

But this is where the assumptions stop.

And the struggle begins.

Sure, she’s beautiful. But can she spin a tale? Let assume yes…for now.

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Stage 2 – Pitching your Book to the Masses

Before we dive too deeply into the muddled waters of the book pitch, I want you to do something for me. I want you to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and remove the following three-word phrase from your vocabulary. I want you to promise never to utter this phrase again. And I want you to promise it right now.

The three-word phrase I want you to forget?

Check out my…”

You mean to say you’ve written a book (and remember, it’s good) but the only words you can think of to lure people into buying it are “Check out my book?” No. Just…no. If readers are going to build any desire to invest in your words, you need to awaken the same skills you used to write your novel and apply them to your sales pitch. You need to practice writing blurbs. You need to master using one or two sentences to not only describe your book, but also to hint at your writing style.

You need to capture people with words.

You need to make them say, “Whoa!”

Let’s look at the following sales pitches. You tell me which of these you’d be more likely to buy:

Pitch 1 – “Hey everyone! Buy my new book ‘Angels of the Seventh Dawn’ on Amazon today!”

or

Pitch 2 – “Upon burning fields and cities buried in ash, seven angelic spirits awaken to deliver humanity from the coming darkness.  – Angels of the Seventh Dawn – Now available.”

That was easy, right? By the way, I don’t know of an actual book named Angels of the Seventh Dawn, but if it existed, I might give it a read.

The point is this: most self-published authors suck at pitching their books. They go through all the glory and suffering of writing something beautiful, and suddenly it seems their creativity abandons them. In their greatest hour of need, they become lost. They pepper the internet with boring ads, dull sales pitches, and no real content other than “Check out my book.”

Don’t ask readers politely to check your stuff out.

Light fires under their asses.

Thanks…but no thanks.

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Stage 3 – You are More than the Books You’ve Written

So you say you’ve written a masterpiece.

Your new book, Angels of the Seventh Dawn, is the bizniz.

It’s bold. It’s epic. Readers will wet their underwear by the time they get to page two.

Trouble is, other than your mom, your cousin Marge, and two of your Facebook BFF’s, you don’t have any readers.

Do modern authors expect to write a book, however great it might be, and watch it soar atop the charts like some kind of cash-feathered eagle? Based on the number of complaints uttered by self-published authors across the internet, yes. But, c’mon now. Why would someone who doesn’t know you, who’s never heard your name or read anything you’ve written before, and who just worked their asses off to make $2.99 – spend that same $2.99 on your new book?

The answer is simple – they probably won’t.

Which is why any author who wants to make even the most modest sum of money selling books needs to create a presence. And by presence, I mean everywhere. To get known and to stay known, the self-published author (who lacks the marketing vehicles supplied by traditional publishers) must write far more than books.

Things an author needs to write:

Stories online – preferably free

Blogs – the topic doesn’t matter as much as the skill exhibited while writing about it

Words. Lots of them. Here, there, and everywhere, establishing who the author is, what they care about, and why they’re someone whose words are worth investing in

Oh, and more books (you thought three was enough?)

And in case authors believe grammar, spelling, and good proofreading are meant solely for their novels, they should think again. The internet is a cesspool of shitty wordplay, and it’s a writer’s job to rise above this. Be sharp with your blogs. Be clean and focused when telling stories. Go back and read your own sentences before hitting the ‘Post’ button. Be a grammar Nazi, but only for yourself.

Because…

I don’t know about you, fellow book reader, but the number of misspelled words, obvious grammatical mistakes, or incoherent sentences I’m willing to tolerate from the authors whose books I read is  – zero. That’s right. Zero. If a writer can’t manage a simple Facebook post well, what are the odds they can handle the pressure of an entire novel?

“The odds are…never mind.”

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Stage 4 – If your Presentation Sucks, Readers will Assume your Writing Sucks, Too

Is it fair?

Probably not.

Is it accurate?

Definitely.

Oh baby. Angels of the Seventh Dawn, your kickass new book, is really good. It’s got angels. It’s got dawns. It’s got…wait…what? A shitty cover?

There’s a ton of good art out there. And a ton of great artists. If you’re serious about the industry, and if you really want to sell books to more people besides your cousin Marge, hire one of these artists. Collaborate with them. Talk about the feelings you want them to convey through their art. And then, after they’ve worked wonders to create something for you, pay them. And pay them well.

The odds are already stacked against you, fellow writer.  Why hamstring yourself by using boring template art or poorly-rendered, low-rez crayon drawings?

Don’t. Just don’t.

My apologies to Mrs. Jeppsen. I’m sure Onio is a solid read.

Your presentation doesn’t just include your cover art. It’s much, much more.

It means having a website, a good one. One that’s easy to navigate. One that includes cool graphics, links to your books, and a rockin’ bio.

It means learning how to write articles with subtle links to your content.

It means creating content that has nothing to do with salesmanship. Just sharp, engaging articles without any mention of your books.

And it means managing your personality online. Not mixing business with pleasure. Not overwhelming people with book ads. And not betraying yourself by spilling negativity onto your audience.

You’re not just selling books, baby. You’re selling you. It won’t matter how good your books are if your self-presentation is sloppy.

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Stage 5 – You Can’t Cheat the System

Yes, you can hire a ‘street team’ to pile up 5-star reviews for your books.

Yes, you can use Bookbub to generate a giant sales spike.

And yes, you have a 0.0001% chance of striking it big with your debut novel, Angels of the Very First Dawn.

But there’s no substitute for quality writing. There’s no marketing strategy allowing you to ‘click it and forget about it.’ There’s no cheat code to worm your way to the top of the industry. You’re going to need patience, and a lot of it. You’ll also need discipline, a willingness to push other pursuits aside, and at least a little bit of luck.

And while walking down the long, hard road to making money via self-publishing, you might be tempted to complain. You might feel the urge to lash out at the unfairness of Amazon’s review system, the prominence of trolls, and the agony of having to deal with readers lobbing 1-stars your way. You might want to quit because you haven’t topped the best-seller charts.

Don’t.

Sit the fuck down.

Stop complaining online.

Kill your desire to post memes about killing off people in your books, how much you need coffee, or how great it is when people reward authors with reviews.

And get your ass into gear writing Angels of the Eighth Dawn.

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Love,

J Edward Neill