The Author Games: Nicholas Sansbury Smith


Who are you and what do you write?nick
Nicholas Sansbury Smith, but I go by Nick. I write science fiction, thrillers and pretty much anything having to do with the end of the world. The apocalypse fascinates me and writing about it allows me to explore what characters would do in desperate and horrifying times. My goal with any story is to make it unique and add a twist so it stands out in the crowded field of apocalyptic books. When I’m not writing, I’m usually doing something to get the adrenaline flowing: triathlons, running, biking, swimming, kayaking, hiking, etc. Whatever gets the heart rate up. I do have a weakness for sweets and animals.

You versus your choice of author or fictional character in a fight to the death. Who would win?
Oh cool! This is one of those two authors enter Thunderdome, but only one author leaves situations? I choose…

George R.R Martin.


For the watch, and for all of my friends who want him to finish book 6.
Pretty sure I would win, because even if George could wield an Axe, there is no way in hell he could catch me. I picture this match going down a lot like the match between Red Viper and The Mountain in Game of Thrones. Here’s a link if you don’t remember it. So I guess that means, in the end, I would actually die. Serves me right for being cocky.
My final words as my head’s exploding would be, “FINISH your damn books dude!”

Looking back on the terrible things you’ve done to your characters, or the cruel backstories you’ve given them, if there was one sentence you could say to them, what would it be?
“What in the hell drove you to touch the glowing blue Orbs?”


What’s the first story you can ever remember writing? Dig deep. We’re talking grade school here if there were any!
Believe it or not, it wasn’t scifi. The first real story was about a pair of twins named Alex and John that were living during the Civil War. Alex went off to fight for the Union Army, but John couldn’t fight due to a crippled leg. While his brother was gone, John befriended several local Cheyenne Indians. Long story short, Alex was injured in the war and was reassigned to fight with the Union Army in Colorado. He was part of the Sand Creek Massacre where the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians were slaughtered by Union troops. Unbeknownst to Alex, his brother was with his Cheyenne friends in the village of 700 the day of the Union Army attack. Told from two POVs, this was my first story showing the horror of war. In this case, two twin brothers on separate sides.Age

It’s a frigid winter day and you’re driving along the highway. You notice an unusual shape, the size of a truck, lodged in the snow. It is shrouded in steam; it appears to be melting the snow around it. As you slow down to get a better look, your heart stops as you realize it is some kind of alien spaceship. A portal in the vessel appears to be open, though you don’t see any movement inside or around it. What’s your move?
Will eased his car to a stop and rolled down the window. A frozen gust of wind blasted into the vehicle, but the bite of cold air wasn’t the reason he was shaking. The center of the cigar shaped spaceship protruding from a bank of snow at a forty-five degree angle was pulsating. The central rectangular door glowed red like a portal to hell.

Will grabbed the door handle and stepped out onto the highway for a better look. Seeing the empty road sent another chill up his legs. Alone, and freezing, Will turned back to the car when a voice he didn’t recognize surfaced in his mind. The dialect was unknown to him, but somewhere deep inside his brain it sounded oddly familiar. A realization hit him with the force of the gusting wind and the clicks of the foreign language suddenly made complete sense.

Come home, Will. Come back to us.

“Well, I told you this was a bad idea!” Describe, in vivid detail, the idea your friend said was a baaaad idea.
“We’re here now, Tim. There’s no turning back,” Rodney said. He craned his neck and looked at his best friend. Tim’s face was contorted into a mask of horror in the shifting glow of their single flashlight.

“Got it? No turning back…” Rodney’s voice trailed off as he grabbed the door handle. They had trekked through the damp, dark passages of the abandoned Soviet bunker for hours now, and according to the map Rodney had found, they were at the final compartment. He drew in a breath that smelled like rotting fruit and formaldehyde.

“Man, I don’t know about thi—s,” Tim whispered.

Rodney handed him the flashlight. “Dude, chill out. No one’s been down here forever.” He twisted the handle and tugged at the steel door. The base dragged across the concrete floor as the door opened for the first time in decades.

The light from Tim’s flashlight danced across the interior of the room filled with lab equipment, but Rodney wasn’t looking at the broken vials, ancient computer equipment or the gurneys draped with black sheets. His gaze was locked on the base of the inside of the door that he held open with one hand. In the weak glow from Tim’s beam, Rodney saw scratch marks crawling up the steel. Whatever animal had made them had been desperate to get out of this place.

“Rod, I think we should—” Tim began to say.

A faint whispering in what sounded a lot like Latin cut him off. Rodney’s heart pounded when he saw the distorted shadows jerking and twisting from the corner of the room. It was then he realized there was a reason this place had been sealed off. No one was supposed to find it…

Write 3 steps on how to be Nicholas Sansbury Smith.
1. Play hard, but work harder.
2. Trust your mind and ignore most of the Gollum voices.
3. Never give up in anything you do.

Last Words
You feel your life force fading. You have only moments left. You look up into the cloudy sky, raise your fist and yell, “Screw you guys, I’m going home!”

Nicholas made it through The Author Games and lives another day. Check out his Official Website, Facebook, or tweet him @greatwaveink!

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The Author Games: Kenny Soward


Who are you and what do you write?
I’m Kenny Soward, and I write epic fantasy with a steampunk edge. I also dabble my toes in the horror genre on occasion.


You versus a young Stephen King in a fight to the death. Who would win?
I would beat Stephen King senseless with the icepacks I use to cool my joints after my daily runs. Although, he could invoke a demon car … it would be a good fight.

The antagonist from your most recent work shows up on your doorstep. What are they going to do to you?
Fill me full of a green slime called “churn” and sell me to the Machine Gods.

What’s the first story you can ever remember writing? Dig deep. We’re talking grade school here if there were any!
It was about a (KY) backwoods witch named Kizzy Lee. She’s still around haunting the woods with her trailer park magic.


Describe, in vivid detail, what someone just said to get this response: “You should know that people ‘round here don’t take kindly to that kind of insinuating.”
I confronted the devil worshipping hillbilly in his cluttered front yard.

“That’s right,” I said. “Sally Sue followed you, Jasper. Watched you and your bat-shit crazy brothers drag her body down through the woods just a hootin’ and hollerin’ the whole time. And then, before you weighed her down with stones and dumped her in the pond, you held her corpse up and danced with it. Took turns with it. Like some redneck Dancing with the Stars. Well, you won’t be dancing much longer.” I slowly reached back for the pistol I had tucked into my belt.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah,” I choked. “That was my sister you fucks killed.”

Jasper nervously scratched at the scruff around his neck with one hand while his other hand drifted back mirroring my movement. “You should know that people ‘round here don’t take kindly to that kind of insinuating.”

You find yourself trapped in an inescapable room with four other people from differing backgrounds. You spot a man with a rainbow Mohawk and a tracksuit. What’s his backstory?

And he had exactly fifty-nine seconds left to live, unless he …

“Hey,” I said to the man with the rainbow Mohawk and tracksuit. He looked disheveled, as did we all, and his eyes darted around with nervous ticks. I pegged him right away. “You running with the Unicorns?”

His eyes ticked to me. He nodded. “Yeah. For about two years.”

“Your bum stuffed with rainbow dust?”

He nodded again. “In a little balloon. Just got off the stellar transport when I felt a prick on my neck. Then everything went black.”

“Well, you’ve got exactly fifty-nine seconds to shit out that rainbow dust and get me high so I can powder port us out of here before this chamber fills with skin-dissolving gas.”

He looked at me doubtfully. “You can powder port?”

I smiled and tapped my temple where the special gland rested just beneath my skull bone. Of course I could.

Write 3 steps on how to be Kenny Soward.
Try to be kind.
Try to be funny.
Follow the lead of successful people.

Last Words
You feel your life force fading. You have only moments left. You look up into the cloudy sky, raise your fist and yell, “I ordered stuffed crust, damn you!”

Kenny survived The Author Games and lives another day. Check him out on Facebook or his Official Website!

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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.


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. 


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.


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.



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.


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.



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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