Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Confessions of a Character's Development: Wolf Cowrie

It was kind of funny how Wolf developed. When I was planning out Sheep's Clothing, the dynamic between the two male leads was intended to be sort of a Holmes-and-Watson-style partnership, with Doc Meadows as Watson (of course) and the bad-ass gunslinger as Holmes (which is why he ended up being so tall and lean). Things didn't quite turn out that way, of course, especially as Wolf started to evolve into his own character.

The first thing that happened was I made him a werewolf--or more specifically, I made him half skinwalker. A skinwalker is a nasty critter from Native American mythology that can turn into any animal it wants, so I had to handwave Wolf having a human parent in addition by saying that his mom (the skinwalker) was mildly fond of humanity. On the heels of that, it seemed logical to also make him half Native American (on his mother's side), and a whole pile of cultural knowledge went along with that.

In a way, this left him still in the same boat as his original inspiration, plus a bit of Simon Belmont from the Castlevania games--with a boatload of relevant information about his monster-hunting lifestyle and not a whole lot more. Rather than an intellectual or an altruist like the Great Detective, however, Wolf was out for one thing: revenge (Back to Simon, depending on the game). He might not have the education, but he has the intelligence and the anger to hunt Alexandre Russeau for five years. Wolf Cowrie is patient, and that makes him a very dangerous enemy.

Of course, by the time we get to Hungry as a Wolf, that mission is all over and done with, leaving Wolf twisting in the wind. He has a pretty complex backstory for what might otherwise be a relatively generic half-Sioux gunslinger wandering the Territories, and that makes him fun to write. He's still going to be a monster hunter--that's kind of what he does--but Hungry as a Wolf is more about helping him get his feet back under himself.

He evolves a lot during the course of this novel, and I plan for him to evolve more in the next novel I have planned, where he has to face the consequences of his past while he's planning for the future. I won't say any more than that except that you can't tear a bloody swath through the monster population for five years without getting some blood on your hands, and his collateral damage is going to trigger someone else wanting revenge.

Because that's how people rolled in the Old West.

Come check out my Kickstarter Campaign for Hungry as a Wolf here!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hungry as a Wolf Kickstarter Campaign: Week 1 Update

It's been a week since my Kickstarter campaign went live, and I have two backers who pledged $5.00 each, so a big thank you to Lukas Schmoelz and Mark Adam Thomas! I still have a long way to go, though, so be sure to tell all your Weird Western fan about this project!

The idea for Hungry as a Wolf started much the same way it's prequel Sheep's Clothing started: I wanted to re-imagine a classic horror monster that's been nearly done to death. Last time around, it was vampires, and I read Dracula for the first time in a while to get some measure of where literary vampires came from, and I also researched vampire myths from all over the world to see what their folklore roots were. (Fun fact: Every single culture has a vampire myth, including the Native Americans. Cool huh?) This time, I decided to try tackling zombies. Unfortunately, literary inspirations were kind of thin, and no two zombie movie franchises seemed to follow the same "rules" (on purpose, I imagine). So, once again, I delved into folklore to see where they originated.

Once again, Native American mythology came through for me, supplying the Ojibwe myth of the Wendigo. The Wendigo (depending on who you ask) either used to be a human who ate human flesh and turned into a monster, or is a sort of demon that possesses humans and drives them to a frenzy of insatiable hunger, especially for human flesh. This could easily be mapped onto the template of a sort of insane fast zombie. If they were smart zombies on top of that... Bwahahaha. For extra horror bonus points, Hungry as a Wolf is set in 1875, not too long after that little thing with the Donner Party (researched that, too).

Now for the fun part: Wolf Cowrie, the hero, is half-Sioux. The Sioux weren't exactly on friendly terms with the Ojibwe in 1875 (when this book takes place). Also, by chance, I wanted to set this story in the Dakota Territory. I discovered that the Black Hills were Sioux holy ground... and also the scene of a gold rush. I was already giggling madly by this point, seeing at least three sub-conflicts that would be running alongside the flesh-eaters. Add to that a thread left over from Sheep's Clothing--whereby Wolf is still recovering from a personal tragedy--and this is one heck of an elaborate character arc for him.

Honestly, with so much material to work from, there's no way I could not write this story! More on this next week as the campaign continues!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Hungry As a Wolf Kickstarter Campaign is now Live!

That's right, readers--the Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for Hungry as a Wolf, the sequel to my weird western novella Sheep's Clothing, is now live! It will last until April 16th, 2015, and every dollar you donate brings me that much closer to getting Hungry as a Wolf polished and looking awesome for the public!

I'm really excited about my first crowdfunding campaign, because and despite the fact that I'm going into this more or less blind. Just like self-publishing, I imagine crowdfunding will be a learning experience.

If you want to check out my Kickstarter campaign, just go here. I'm got a fair number of rewards for contributors of all kinds, and I'm not asking for much in the grand scheme of crowdfunded publishing, so donate what you can! Thanks in advance!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

On World Conquest and Zombie Outbreaks

I know this post is a little late in the day, but I wanted to make sure I had my stuff together before I blogged about it. You know how that goes.

First bit of news concerns the Heart of Steel audiobook. Yes, this will be a thing, and I've chosen the narrator for it and everything. The voice of Heart of Steel will be Peter Reynolds, whom you may or may not recognize for his narration of "The Things", a perspective flip of the 1982 movie The Thing, and selections from Fallout: Equestria, which is what happens when some crazy person crosses over My Little Pony with Fallout (yes, really). He's also done voice work in tons of video games, and to judge by the QA sample he's done of Heart of Steel so far, he's great for creature-heavy works. Learn more about him here.

The other bit of news concerns the Kickstarter campaign for my upcoming weird western novel Hungry as a Wolf, the sequel to Sheep's Clothing. This will also be a thing, and to prove it, I have a preview of my project available on Kickstarter hoping to attract some feedback so that I can have the best chance possible of raising the funds I need. So, if any of you have experience in using Kickstarter and/or are interested in seeing Hungry as a Wolf published and want to help, please check out the campaign here. I will have the campaign open to feedback until March 17th, so any help you can offer (advice-wise or financial-wise) will be greatly appreciated. I'm not asking for much compared to other publishing campaigns, and I'm not asking anyone to fund a sabbatical from work or a research grant.

I mean, the book is already written. I just want it to look its best. Besides, I write fantasy. I've researched the heck out of the bits that need researching. All that is done. I just have the final polish to work out.

So that's this week's blog post. Next week, I'll be launching my Kickstarter campaign and getting my first real taste of crowdfunding, and keeping up regular updates for the month that will be running. You can also keep up on my Facebook page here if you are so inclined.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Hungry as a Wolf: Kickstarter Proposal

So, I've started a project on Kickstarter. At the time of this writing, it isn't anywhere near ready to see daylight, but I have the bare bones down.

Things I still need:

A Project Photo

I have a frontier woman outfit in my closet (cosplay nerds unite!) and will wear that in my project photo, with my other two books on display.

A Project Video

Not sure how I'll swing this. I will see what the motion video capabilities are on my phone and see if I can rope on of my friends into helping out.

The Story

I'm Elizabeth Einspanier, author if Sheep's Clothing and Heart of Steel. My current project is Hungry as a Wolf, a sequel to Sheep's Clothing, and I'm nearly done!
Hungry as a Wolf will be the second book in my weird western series, focusing on Wolf Cowrie, the half-breed gunslinger, as he faces off against a horde of intelligent ghouls possessed by the spirit of a hungry demon in the Black Hills in 1875. I researched the history of the area and as much of Sioux culture as I could for this novel, as well as nailing down the racial politics and overall culture of the Dakota Territory in that time period, and made the historical elements and the folklore behind the story as accurate as I could.
At this point, I am editing the third draft according to feedback from my beta readers, and I plan to hire a professional editor and a proofreader for that added layer of polish. Additionally, I plan to hire a cover designer from Fiverr so the finished book looks great. I already have my editor and proofreader chosen.
Once I have the necessary funding, my timeline will look something like this:
  • One month with the editor
  • Rewrites and tweaks
  • One month with my proofreader
  • Last polish
  • Cover artist and pre-release promotion
  • Release!
I acknowledge that this is a rough layout of how things will go, but barring any disasters I expect Hungry as a Wolf to be out late 2015 or early 2016.
My budget for this project will be $745 USD, which will include editor fees, proofreading fees, cover designer fees, and the first small run of print copies and rewards for contributors. Anything you can contribute will help me get this project off the ground. Thank you for your time.

That's the rough draft of my pitch story. If any of my readers have experience in using Kickstarter or other crowdfunding sites, any assistance in polishing or tightening it up will be greatly appreciated.