The Lake – Entry 6

The Lake is a supplemental serial novella to the Anisakis Nova series by Eloise J. Knapp. It comes after the events of Pulse: Genesis and Pulse: Retaliation and sets the stage for Pulse 3.

thelake

The first tendrils of baby kale sprouted up in the hoop houses today. Linda planted pak choi, too, which was sprouting. All of them seem delicate and insubstantial. It’s hard to believe it could produce enough food to make a difference. I’m still used to the idea of an unlimited food supply from the grocery store. I find myself craving something and my brain says, go to the store, and then I realize there are no stores anymore. This puts everything into perspective. Even when we were getting all our food from rations back in the cities, I was removed from it all. Knowing we have only as much food as we brought, can hunt, fish, or gather puts a lot of stress on everyone’s mind.

It’s getting colder. Jim said it can snow up to two feet here in the winter. I have a stack of printed instructions on how to build a fireplace and chimney for log cabins in addition to my other book. We’ve all reviewed it and are gathering the right shaped stones for the job. Work on that starts tomorrow.

The food we brought is becoming scarce. Magnus is concerned we’ve been overfishing the lake so we’ve reduced it. Beth stretches each catch out by making huge batches of fish broth flavored with wild thyme and one or two cans of vegetables. You’re lucky if you get a fleck of trout. Cat harvested all the cattails from around the lake. The root system is safe to eat. We get that in the stew sometimes.

For breakfast we eat whatever berries are left mixed into oatmeal. There are still six or seven tubs of dry oats left. Every morning we drink cupfuls of tea made of fresh rosehips and pine needles. It’s actually very good. The kids have a mile perimeter they wander and always bring back enough for the next day.

Anthony spotted deer on one of his hikes and declared it would be a good time to start hunting. He plans on taking what ammo we have to try and get a few. If we dry the meat it’ll help out during winter.

Every day I think about Chelsea. I think about how she said this was going to be hard, much harder than I thought. She was right. There are too many mouths to feed, too many people looking for direction. My life before this doesn’t seem like my own.

I do what I can. I keep a smile on my face and work my fingers to the bone so they have someone to look up to. God that sounds vain. Like I’m some shining example they should look up to. If they knew how often I wanted to drive down the mountain and see what civilization was like, if maybe the uninfected regained control, they wouldn’t like me so much.

We saw a plane fly overhead today, that’s what makes me bring it up. It’s been so long since we’ve been here without any sign of life from the outside.

It was a jet, like a military one. Everyone saw it. There was an open conversation between everyone about it. The final decision was that it didn’t indicate anything one way or another and we’d keep pressing forward at The Lake.

That night I had a dream. Beth opened the lid to one of her big pots of fish stew. Swimming around in the broth were hundreds of tiny worms. They climbed over the rim and onto the table. No one moved. They stood there like statues and let the worms crawl into their mouths and noses. I tried to shake them, to get them to move, and no one would.

The worms got me last.

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Custom and Premade Covers for Indie Authors

Eloise Knapp Design

Z-Risen: Poisoned Earth ebook cover

Recent custom cover I did for Timothy W. Long’s Z-Risen: Poisoned Earth.

Some of you might know I’m a designer in addition to being an author. Design is something I’ve been passionate about even before writing. So far, I’ve done all 5 of my own covers and enjoy working with other authors and sometimes publishers to create custom covers. In fact, I’ve done enough of them I decided to offer my services officially.

While my custom covers range in the $100 – $400 range, I know people (especially indie authors) are working with a tight budget. As a way of honing my skills and keeping my creativity flowing, I make premade covers to my liking and offer them for cheap on my website. I put time, effort, and love into each of the covers and would be proud to have them represent my own writing.

I hate the idea of slapping text onto a barely edited stock image, so all premade covers contain numerous elements that make them truly unique. My specialty is post-apocalyptic and horror, but I’m also into urban fantasy and fiction, too. I even have a few romance-y and traditional fantasy themed premade covers available. 

Esoterrorism_text_updatedmaxinemurdergirlsceliaautotherapy

Feel free to visit my website Eloise Knapp Design to take a look at other custom covers, the design process, and anything else you could imagine. Here’s a few words from authors I’ve worked with before.

Testimonials

CRASH DIVE, by Craig DiLouie

CRASH DIVE, by Craig DiLouie

“I’m an author who has been traditionally published by publishers both large and small, but wanted to do a solo self-publishing project. Eloise Knapp supported the development of this project with a stunning cover design. She brought an immediate understanding of publishing, such as the need for the cover to look good both visually large and small. She produced quality work and accepted client direction in a working relationship that was open, professional and helpful. The price was extremely economical, with no hidden fees–in fact, Eloise figured out a way to save me stock photo costs. The final product is stunning; the cover has received a lot of compliments and, I believe, contributed to good sales. One may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but it certain helps to have a great one! I’m happy to recommend Eloise is a go-to resource for publishers and authors looking for professional, high-quality, economical art design.”
– Craig DiLouie, author of SUFFER THE CHILDREN

DEEP FREEZE, by Jacqueline Druga

DEEP FREEZE, by Jacqueline Druga

“Ask and you shall receive. Eloise Knapp delivers exactly what I want each and every time, from book covers to posters. She is amazing. Not only is she talented, she is efficient and fast. Her covers are gripping, professional and the best ‘first’ line of sales for any author. They are attention grabbers. I like that she has the ability to ‘grasp’ what I see as an author and I look forward to working with her on many more. It is my hope, that when I become super successful, that I can have her redo all of my covers. Which is a lot. Thanks El, for the great work.”
– Jacqueline Druga, author of PROTOCOL ONE and CONTAGIOUS

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Screw you, Brain. Not Today.

Troll brain

Your brain in Troll Mode.

Dear Brain,

Oh, it’s this again, huh? We woke up fine with a smile on our face—that’s rare enough as it is—with optimism coursing through our veins, and you had to pull this bullshit again?

Screw you, Brain. Not today.

I’m not letting you stir up the doubt, the self-loathing, the pessimism. And no, I’m not going to watch Netflix midday instead of doing something productive. Nice try.

The thing is, Brain, I let you take the lead too often. You see something that makes us unhappy and you ruin the whole fucking day. You run around in circles, tripping over barriers of your own design, slamming into walls you built yourself, then wonder why your face is so messed up and you can’t get anything done.

No. Not today.

Today, right now, this second, I’m taking charge. I know you’re looking out for me in your own twisted way, that you think casting us into blinding depression and irrational thought processes will somehow protect us from the big, bad, scary world. I’m telling you now, it won’t.

It absolutely, posi-fucking-tively, won’t.

So, here it is, what I want. I want you to chill out. I want you to take a deep breath, remember whatever you’re thinking can be set aside for a while so we can focus on the now. So we can do what we want to and give it our best. Deep down, I know that’s what you want.

If it’s of any consolation, all that bullshit you’re fixated on, it’ll still be there tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Me

P.S. Don’t put those YouTube videos in front of me, you manipulative jackass. I know what you’re doing.

***

This ranty open letter goes out to all my fellow creators who are fighting the good fight and going through the struggles we have on a day to day basis with our art and psyche. The only thing stopping you is you.

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The Lake – Entry 5

Hi guys! I’m doing two entries in a row since I skipped one a couple weeks ago.

The Lake is a supplemental serial novella to the Anisakis Nova series by Eloise J. Knapp. It comes after the events of Pulse: Genesis and Pulse: Retaliation and sets the stage for Pulse 3.

thelake

I’m giving up on dates. A lot of people haven’t, so if I wanted to know what day it was, I could ask. But at this point, does it matter? I don’t think so.

Haven’t had a chance to write in a while. Both cabins are done. For now we have tarps covering them. Eventually we’ll need to split wood to make shingles or figure out something more long term. Splitting wood to make shingles is (like all this) tricky. It has to be the right kind of wood and it will take a lot of labor. Short term, I’d rather be splitting wood for the fires we need to cook, boil water, and keep us warm. Long term, I know the shingles are a good use of manpower. I’m just complaining.

It’s a tight fit, but right now if everyone lays close we fit into the cabins at night. It feels like a step up from the tents for sure. Our collective body warmth keeps it at a good temperature despite the cold outside.

One thing we never planned out was beds. Magnus has built bunk beds before, which will be the best use of space so we’ll do that. The cabins will be like barracks until we build enough for individual families to live in. What I’m wondering about is what we’ll do for mattresses. Sleeping on hard slats of wood sounds worse than sleeping on the ground. That’s minor compared to everything else we’re dealing with, so I’m setting it aside for now.

Obviously I hope we can survive here, but if we don’t I wanted a record of this. Just in case…hell, I don’t know. In case humans retaliate against the infected and someone finds our corpses while on a backpacking trip. Here’s the list, including those we’ve lost or who have left.

Jim. Librarian, jack of all trades.

Tony & Beth. Carpenter, teacher.

Matt & Allie. Programmer/backpacker, daughter.

Cat, Dog + nephews (Frank & Bill). Nutritionist, yoga teacher, midwife. Man’s best friend.

Anthony. Competitive marksman, Army veteran.

Linda. Office secretary, green thumb.

Magnus, Jessica, Brittney and Peter (kids). Sportsmen, Navy veteran. Youth leader, chef. Kids.

Wayne. Medical experience, roommate.

Jamie. ? Roommate.

Laurie. Experience with children, roommate. 

Chelsea. Awesome chick, girlfriend. (Deceased, shot)

Felix, Marita, Desi. EMT, gardener, family. (Abandoned group)

Jeremy, Katrina. Couple.

So. Jamie. Linda talked to me about Jamie again. We hadn’t discussed it since the first time at the gardening store.

We were alone in an open grassy area about a quarter mile from the camp that she planned on using to garden next year. We were moving big rocks and stumps out of the area. I knew when she asked just me to accompany her that something was up. The job sounded like it needed four people at least.

“Jamie is still spending a lot of time with Brittney and Cat. When we go gathering wild greens they stick together behind the rest of the group.” She wiped sweat from her brow, leaving behind a trailing smudge of dirt.

I asked her if anything else happened. She told me no. He just hangs around them a lot and doesn’t give her any space. She acknowledged nothing malicious had happened yet, but he still gave her a bad feeling and asked if I would keep an eye out.

I said I would.

To be honest, he gives me a bad feeling, and not just because of his interest in the girls. He puts just enough work in around The Lake to look busy yet never gets anything done. Everyone else, even the kids, work to exhaustion every day. Even Frank and Bill, the youngest, will trek to and from the lake with little pails of water. Jamie spent a lot of time off doing…

Who knows what.

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The Lake: Entry 4

The Lake is a supplemental serial novella to the Anisakis Nova series by Eloise J. Knapp. It comes after the events of Pulse: Genesis and Pulse: Retaliation and sets the stage for Pulse 3.

thelake

105

Linda finished setting up her hoop houses. She thinks there’s still time to get a bunch of kale growing. It’s a hearty green that can live through almost anything. A mile around the lake she found a ton of native blackberry bushes. Her and the kids pick berries every day. She brings back any other wild edibles she finds. Between that and the fish, no one is hungry.

Wayne and Jamie have been setting up PVC pipes from the lake to the camp. Once they install a pump we’ll have water right in base and won’t have to carry it from the lake anymore.

We’re still not sure if it’s safe to drink (it probably isn’t) so we have giant pots boiling over a campfire all day. If we had more piping left, we could create a water catchment system on the cabins. Anyway, we store cooled water in buckets and any free containers possible. We knew how much water everyone would need going into this, but fuck…it’s a lot of work to purify that much every day.

There are a lot of things we’re missing or could use. As a group we’ve discussed leaving The Lake to gather supplies from the last town we passed on the way up. It wasn’t abandoned or infected when we drove by it. The general consensus was to wait until we absolutely had to. We needed to push ourselves and see how much we could do on our own. Plus there’s that whole “we all agreed to never leave and be totally self-sustaining.” Funny how everyone’s tune changes when shit starts getting inconvenient.

Sorry, I’m in a bad mood. I pulled something in my back while I was working on the cabins. Pushing logs up the ramps to finish the walls is rough.

I had a dream about Brian. We were having pizza like normal and he handed me a ranch cup. When I opened it, there were parasites in it. I looked up and they were pouring from his mouth, his eyes, his nose. Every part of his body leaked them. I was too afraid to move. They crawled all over me and I felt them getting inside me, infecting me.

Yeah. It sucked. It sucks even more because I’ve had the dream four nights in a row.

Magnus is calling. Still have four hours left in my twelve hour day.

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Convention Basics for Authors

meGoing to a convention for the first time as a vendor can be intimidating for an author. What do you bring? How will you take payment? How many books? What should the table look like? Signage?

After attending about fifteen conventions, some total failures and others great successes, out of state and local, I feel like I’m at a point where I can dole out legitimate advice.

Let’s begin!

The Mindset

First, before I say anything, let me say this: conventions are not about making money. Do not go into one thinking you’ll be walking out with fat stacks of cash. For most of us, while it’s certainly possible you could turn a profit at one of these things, especially if’s a local con, there’s a possibility you won’t. It’s pretty simple: after you add the cost of the table, cost of books, marketing materials, food, parking, transportation, lodging, and random stuff you buy at the con, a lot of money has been spent.

Why go, then? To network. That word scares me because it means social interaction with people, putting myself out there, and being “on” for many hours at a time. This comes naturally to some people. For others, it doesn’t. I’m in the latter category, but after enough of these and going in with the right mindset, you’ll come to enjoy them.

Here is my mindset going into a convention:

– I have no expectation on how many books I will sell or how much money I could/will make. If I break even, sweet! If I make a profit, amazing! If I lose money, no problem!

– I am excited to meet up with other authors I know and haven’t seen in a while, to talk shop or just have fun. Being around other creative people, who have good advice and are inspirational, is good for me.

– I’m going to try and connect with new authors/artists/people, because you never know where that connection could lead or who you will meet.

– I will put my best foot forward and stay positive, because hot damn, if I don’t then I’m screwed!

Be sure to take a step away from your booth for a break and to see what the con has to offer. Look, I found Big Foot!

Be sure to take a step away from your booth for a break and to see what the con has to offer. Look, I found Big Foot!

The Basics

The Table

Tables typically need to be secured months in advance. They range from $150 – $500+ depending on the size of the convention. I highly suggest splitting a table with another author if at all possible, ideally with someone you know or are familiar with.

Advantages are that it reduces table cost and provides someone who can watch the booth while you take a break. It may help you meet new people, etc. If the con is at a low point, it’s better to be talking to your tablemate than to be glued to your phone. It’s easier for an attendee to approach you if you’re talking to someone instead of looking down, oblivious to what is going on around you.

Disadvantages are that you will be limited on space (I have 5 books as of writing this and half works for me, so this isn’t likely). Your tablemate’s aura might not jive with yours.

The Con

If you write romance with not a lick of horror, a horror convention might not be the right place for you. Attend the right convention for your work, that will likely have the correct demographic.

The cost of flying to a convention really ads up. After airfare, hotel, and food, you’ve already spent a lot. However, there are some amazing conventions worth going to if you can swing it! Check in with other authors or vendors who have been to the convention and ask them about their experience. Splitting a table and sharing a hotel room will help you save money on these.

The Goods

Here is what I bring to all conventions for my table, no matter what.

– Books. If you’re comfortable doing this, ask other authors who have attended the convention how many books they generally bring. For smaller conventions, bring fewer books. For bigger cons, bring a medium amount. Just because 10,000+ people are at a con doesn’t mean even a fraction of them will buy your books. Be realistic.

– Business cards/bookmarks/fliers. You need to have something to give to people who won’t aren’t going to buy your book but might be interested in you. Above all else, these marketing materials must have your name and website or social media outlets.

– Petty cash. If you’re selling books for $10 each, have a lot of 10s to give out as change. If you’re selling them for $15, have 5s. Pretty simple.

– Card reader. This isn’t always usable as conventions can be subterranean and without wifi or reception. However, it’s a good thing to have on hand in case it does work. PayPal and Square readers are free, but do have a transaction fee.

– Pens. People will want you to sign your book.

– Book stands. I like the wire variety that fold down. Make sure they are small enough to fit the trim size of your book.

– Pricing signs. This one is slightly debatable. Sometimes I do it, most times I don’t. You can have a little sign that outlines the cost of your books or products. If someone is interested in your book, even if you have a sign, they’ll probably ask you how much.

– Food and water. You wouldn’t like me when I’m hungryKeep your blood sugar up. The second you crash, the con will start sucking. You need energy. Drinks and protein bars. Chips. Whatever. Just eat.

If you want to get fancy, you can bring some signage. Even a 8×11 piece of paper with your name on it to pin/tape/set on the table would be good. I have a pop-up vinyl banner I carry around. You can get these in varying sizes. Not an end all item, but can be helpful to make you look more professional.

The Setup

booksOk, how do you set up your table? My favorite configuration is to stack books as shown in the photo on the left, and put a copy on top of the stack on a stand. This gives the table some height and is a good use of space. Put books in the same series near each other.

I put a few books from another series stacked in the center (Pulse) and some bookmarks and business cards wherever they’ll fit from there. It isn’t shown, but on the left side of my table, I have the next book in the Pulse series stacked how I have the Cyrus series.

Behind all this (not pictured) is my vinyl banner stand on the ground, identifying who I am with a couple of my book covers on it. In retrospect, I should’ve made it a timeless banner without my book covers. Why? Because I have two more books since I made it and so it is no longer current.

frameThere was a time when I only had one book. In this case, I followed the same principal; a couple stacks of that book with a display copy on a stand people could pick up and look through. I had business cards and some fliers that had information about the book and me. It helps to have some kind of sign (even a small one) that says who you are. I’ve seen people use a self standing acrylic photo holder (pictured right). This is a great way to have some signage without breaking the bank or taking up too much space.

I avoid letting garbage build up in my area (food wrappers, drinks, etc.). The space needs to look tidy and professional.

The Attitude

You have your table set up, you’re ready to go. Now the real work begins. How you present yourself makes a huge difference in how people receive you, no matter what. You’ll have to discover what works for you best. However, here are three things I always do that I think most people can and should apply.

– I nod and say hello to everyone who makes eye contact with me. If they linger, I politely ask if I could tell them about my work. Sometimes people don’t understand that you’re the author (despite the signage, your vendor badge, etc.) so this is a good opening line.

– I show respect and kindness to anyone willing to stop at my table, whether I think they’ll buy a book or not, because you never want to seem like a jerk, and if you are that’s how people will remember you. Plus, I’m just grateful people are showing interest and I show it!

– Even if the con isn’t going well, or I’m not feeling it, I try to reset my mindset or I don’t let it show. Cons are very karmic; if you put bad energy out, people will shy away from you. I’m here as a professional and part of that means setting aside my personal feelings for the betterment of my brand.

You can still be super chill, fun to be around, and the badass author you are while still remaining professional.

Hey, look! There's some badass authors right here!

Hey, look! There’s some badass authors right here! Left to right: Jennifer Brozek, Timothy W. Long, Jonathan Moon, Craig DiLouie, and me! Crypticon 2015

The Spiel

Okay, you’re still here! Sweet! Let’s talk about how to sell your books, because moving books is still an important part of a con. Fixating on making money, not a part of it. Getting your books into the hands of new readers, definitely part of it.

The Holy Spiel, the Thing That Will Sell Your Book, is vital! A spiel is the sentence you say after, “Can I tell you about my work?” and you get a yes. I point to The Undead Situation and say, “Zombie apocalypse from a sociopath’s point of view.” Then if they’re nodding, seem to be interested, I will point to Pulse and say, “Mutated parasite that turns people into murderous psychopaths.”

If you have an accolades, like a significant review or you made it on a top list, toss that in. You have seconds to pitch your book to a potential reader, don’t waste it!

I’ve heard other author’s spiels so many times, I could confidently try and sell their books. They’ve heard mine so many times they could do the same for me. As a matter of fact, we’ve done this before.

The End

At the end of the day, each convention is unique. If you come prepared with the right mindset and basics, you can make it through anything. Conventions get better as you gain more experience on how to handle them, so if your first experience is bad, don’t write them off forever.

I hope this blog helped you new convention goers even a little bit, and if you have any questions please let me know! I would love to share any advice I have.

Here's me at my first ever convention. I got to meet George Romero!

Here’s me at my first ever convention. I got to meet George Romero!

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The Lake: Entry 3

The Lake is a supplemental serial novella to the Anisakis Nova series by Eloise J. Knapp. It comes after the events of Pulse: Genesis and Pulse: Retaliation and sets the stage for Pulse 3.
thelake

930

One cabin almost done. It turned out better than I thought it would. It’s a 15’x15’ cabin with one gaping hole for a door and two gaping holes for windows. No roof yet. It’s taken us four days to get this far even with the help of the chainsaw. Which, by the way, we’re running out of gas for. After this it’ll be axes. Hey, at least I’ll be ripped after this. All this manual labor and protein based diet is better than anything I would’ve done before the apocalypse.

Damn. I remember researching so many fad diets and workout routines, sure I was going to get my health together. On Monday. Or next month. Whenever it seemed like a good time to start a lifestyle change.

The hard part is hauling the logs back to the area we’re building. We got six logs from clearing the area we want to build. Everyone helped build a rock foundation underneath it, slathering on a mix of concrete. That’s what we put the logs on, then notch them and alternate.

Yeah, it’s pretty much like Lincoln logs but a hell of a lot harder.

But the rest of the trees, we have to tie ropes on them and haul them. The walls are about 6 feet now, 7 with the rock foundation. The taller it gets, the harder it becomes to build. We slide the logs up two ramps. It takes every bit of energy we have.

It looks amazing. We’ll spend the next few days getting the skeleton of the roof together.  Once that’s done, we’ll start it all over again and build another. I think it’ll go much faster since we know what we’re doing.

My body aches. This work is hard. I like that, though. I like knowing my actions have instant and visible results. Every day I feel like I’m doing something important. I never had this before. Life before was about doing things and hoping it would pay off, or doing things you know wouldn’t pay off.

Go to college and some day you might get a good job.

Post a selfie of yourself because…well, no reason. Just because.

Okay, it’s time to come clean about what I wrote on the 20th. I didn’t know what to make of it, so I thought the worst. When I went back to the truck and got the radio going, it was the same recording from that Adam Baker guy. The exact same. I figured that meant the world was still under the parasite’s control. Now I’m not so sure. Maybe no one has had the time to change the recording yet? It doesn’t mean everyone is infected. It could just mean no one has gotten around to it.

That’s what I’m telling myself at least. Every day I’m tempted to go check again. Every day I tell myself I can’t. I shouldn’t. I remember what happened to Brian, how they hanged him, and I feel sick. That isn’t a world I want to even risk returning to.

Time for dinner. Until next time.

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