America’s premiere superhero team has been missing for days. So when a mutant monstrosity goes on the rampage, it’s Spitball to the rescue! He’s a third-string hero today, determined to be first-string tomorrow. And the Army may be giving him just the chance he needs. Spitball's been invited to undertake a secret mission into America’s heartland. What he’s about to discover, however, is not a chance at stardom but a horror movie come to life...
Hungry Gods is a darker kind of superhero novel, intended for adult readers and featuring "sidekick-style storytelling."
**UPDATE: GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS**
The short version goes like this:
The bad news is that I’m pretty sure at this point I’m scrapping the “sidekick-style storytelling” bit. Which means that the final version of Hungry Gods won’t include a bonus short story, just the primary novel. So what does that mean for everyone who’s contributed at a level where they’d have gotten that story ($10 and up)?
That’s the good news. Instead of a bonus short story, you’re all going to get a bonus whole darn book of short stories. I was already collecting up and still writing shorts to publish as an “Identity Crisis companion” and have decided that I’m going to transfer that would-be sidekick over into this collection. And, of course, it would be morally and ethically wrong to cheat you all out of that story, so I guess I’ll just have to give you the whole collection of five stories instead.
Now the wait on that item may take a bit longer, so I’ll still make good on providing a short story from that collection when the time comes to pay out the rest of the Kickstarter rewards. Then I’ll just let you all know when the companion collection is published and we’ll work it out at that time. Mostly likely, the ebook versions will be free to everyone who has it coming, with a signed paperback option at minimum cost (but still free for the $100 contributors).
So, in a nut shell:
-- There will no longer be a “sidekick” short story included with the novel.
-- But you will still get a short story when the time comes.
-- And you will get the short story collection in the not-too-distant future.
Cosplayer Amy Thunderhawk and I have been discussing the possibility of her being the cover girl for the finished book, and she's in! Amy will portray the book's beautiful bad-ass, Silk Spider. We're both excited by the idea of basing the cover image on her costuming skills and superheroine style and are crossing our fingers that this project succeeds. Thanks for joining the team, Amy! (You can see her Facebook page by clicking her name above or right here.)
Now, does anyone have any questions?
Yeah, what's with that video? Hey, I'm a writer, not a filmmaker. That dog jumping in was the best thing that could have happened there...
What is Sidekick-Style Storytelling? Some heroes bring along a pint-sized avenger-in-training to act as secretary, token hostage, and last-minute lifesaver. Hungry Gods is the primary tale of this book, but also contained within its cover is a related short story that leaps from the background of the greater novel—the “sidekick,” so to speak. (The entire Identity Crisis Trilogy, when completed, will be based on Sidekick-Style Storytelling.)
Identity Crisis Trilogy? So is this one book or a series? Please don’t misunderstand, this Kickstarter is to support a single book. Hungry Gods is a stand-alone novel (and sidekick story) of superheroic adventure. It also happens to be the first of a trilogy, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. This Kickstarter is to support this one book only. (Besides, the next two books are at least a year away.)
Will I like it? Well, do you expect me to say "no" to that? Here's a sample, the first scene of the book as it stands. Again, this is first draft stuff and may need another round of work, but at least it gives you taste. As you can see, our young hero has some life lessons to learn. Amazing the maturity jolt a town full of the undead will give you...
-- 1 --
Luke thought it was a Godzilla movie playing on the student union big screen, but it wasn’t. A green and grey monstrosity was throwing cars in the background while panicky citizens screamed as fast as their legs could carry them in the foreground. Foreground to the giant TV were twenty tables seating a smattering of students, coming and going, eating and studying and absorbed in their cell phones. No one seemed to notice the pandemonium on TV. Maybe we are all desensitized, Luke thought. The union smelled of sloppy joes and Tina’s perfume. His imagination registered the former as the monster’s seasoned and bun-served victims; the latter was one of those chemical supermodel scents that’s impossible to trace back to anything in nature.
“I had physics in high school,” Tina was saying, “but it still sounds like gibberish to me when he’s up there teaching. Or trying to teach. I don’t think the instructors really need much qualifications to work at a community college, you know? Luke?”
He was watching the big screen and realizing that this was a live news broadcast, not a movie. Pins and needle tingled over his face and his feet started tapping with an anxious electricity—in a good way.
“What? Oh, sorry, Tina.” They had just come from Professor Smith’s physics 120 class. The only thing Luke had taken away from it so far was that momentum was equal to mass times velocity. That was very important to him; an exciting revelation, in fact. Another exciting revelation was that this cute brunette in glasses (there was something he liked about glasses, not sure why) was for some reason tagging along beside him and wanting to talk. She sat next to him in class, had a little scar through her left eyebrow, and chewed on her pencil a lot. Oh yes, he’d seen her, but didn’t think she’d noticed him. Luke was not unknown to women, as it were, but they certainly didn’t flock to him. He’d had better luck with girls in high school, when he was a track star. In the few years since graduating though... Well, there aren’t a lot of chicks chasing after guys with little apparent ambition. Luke had dreams, they just weren’t dreams he could freely talk about. His goals were not ones that everyone had access to. Only a secret, random few.
Tina pushed a lock of hair back over her ear, adjusted her glasses. “So maybe we could work together on the homework? Just until I get a better understanding, or whatever. I could give you my number.”
“Sure,” Luke said with a smile. He pulled his cell from his pocket and swiped the screen to unlock it. There was a text message waiting for him there: I need to see you before you go. The little bubble was from W. “Where am I going?” Luke mumbled.
“Huh?” Tina was staring, phone in hand, ready to swap numbers, her cute little scarred eyebrow arched in a question.
Luke glanced back at the news playing on the far wall. The cameraman was being driven back by a police officer. Rampaging in the background was a cross between the World’s Strongest Man competition and Jurassic Park. The banner streaming along the bottom read: MANOSAUR ATTACKS OPAL BAY WATER FRONT.
Sometimes Luke felt cocky, sometimes humble. And while riding high on a super-inflated boost of confidence made him feel more than human, it probably wasn’t all that great for his social life. Past experience had made him very aware of this. But today... Today there was a supervillainous monster on a rampage, a cryptic message from the Miracle Worker (whom Luke called W—only those who really knew him could call him that), and a girl he’d been sitting next to for only a couple days was actually initiating a study buddies relationship, at a minimum. Today was a cocky day.
He stuck his phone back in his jeans pocket and pulled his pack tighter across his back. “I got to go, Tina. But yeah, sure, we can study together. Email me.” He pushed the glass door open with his butt.
She watched with her mouth hanging ajar, some degree of disappointment and disbelief on her face. “What’s your email?” she asked.
“I’m in the college system.” He had one foot outside.
“What’s your last name?”
“Gillis,” he said, turning. “Luke Gillis. See you, cutie.” He cringed as he rolled outward and trotted away. The cutie bit might have been too much, but, you know, he was extra special today so he could get away with it. Besides, turning her down the first time would no doubt make her more eager the second time. They were only a few days out from Labor Day weekend. He’d ask her to hangout sometime over the break. If she was lucky.
You’re a jerk, he told himself.
“Yeah,” he replied aloud, “but all the good looking girls go for jerks, don’t they?”
A few more strides and he upped the gas, dodging between fellow students perhaps faster than was reasonably safe. Not for collisions, but maybe not so safe for keeping a secret identity under wraps.
* * *
Have you ever written anything before? Heck yeah! I’m an established author with stories published online and in magazines, and I’ve twice been a finalist in the Writers of the Future Contest. I also have several books available via Fugitive Fiction right now, including these:
What’s the money going for? Our first goal is professional editing and proofreading, as well as fulfilling all the promised rewards. After that is achieved, the funding can go into the cost of ISBN numbers, new cover art options, printing, marketing, translation, and a list of other expenses.
Stretch Goals: If we exceed our $500 goal, I'll add more goodies at these benchmark levels:
$1000 – “Wrist Watch Communicators” All “Heroes in Training” and up ($5+) will receive a signed and numbered Postcard Progress Report featuring the image above when the book is nearing its final stages.(Add $2 for postage outside the U.S.)
$1500 – “Origin Story” All “Sidekicks” and up ($10+) will receive an additional superheroic story in ebook format.This story ties into the background of HUNGRY GODS and will be featured in an up-coming collection (due to be published 2015-2016).
$2000 – “Costume Upgrade” T-shirt option unlocked. Imagine a black t-shirt with blazing blue hands revealing the star-spangled hero beneath your clever street-clothes disguise.The Kickstarter cover image (and probable future book cover) you see above will be used to create a line of t-shirts, which you can add to your order for cheap.(Probably only an additional ten bucks or so; will depend on how many folks are interested.)
Risks and challenges
There are actually very few risks involved. The first draft of the novel is already completed and the sidekick is in-progress. The main obstacle is time. I’m a active duty Navy man, not a fulltime writer, and my family and I will be relocating to a new duty station shortly after this Kickstarter ends. As you can imagine, moving your entire life and family puts a hiccup in your day-to-day goal accomplishment. But this is nothing more than that: a hiccup. The book will be completed, there’s just going to be some major life changes occurring along the way. (Thus December 2014 as the projected delivery date, but hopefully I’ll get everything out sooner than that.)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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