It's hard to believe that this book marketing image was originally created using pencil-crayons, typing paper cut-outs and scotch tape on black bristol board. The text was added with Paint.NET.
When I shot the picture, the flash was turned on, and it resulted in a big spot of glare, and I thought the shot was ruined. However, I stuck it into Nero Photosnap and fiddled around with lightness and contrast, as well as the different colour channels. I also probably sharpened it up, although it was some time ago.
The next in the Shalako Publishing series of PODs, (print on demand) paperbacks will be, 'The Case of the Curious Killers.' It will be another 5 x 8" book. Recalling how it felt to hold the 'On the Nature of the Gods,' paperback, with its really good cover art, I am looking forward to uploading this one on CreateSpace and seeing what it looks like.
That's no reason to rush the process, and as long as I can put out one a month or so the schedule is fine. It also leaves me open to other things, not the least of which is to get out in the fresh air after a long winter. That one should be out in the first week of May, followed by 'The Shape-Shifters' in June.
Oh, I almost forgot: here's an excerpt from, 'The Case of the Curious Killers,' a kind of space-opera.
The music had a syncopated, throbbing, thumping bass-line. A ragged cheer went up from clumps of youthful aliens here and there, and they came running out to the center, forming up in couples, trios, quads and odd-numbered formations. The biggest was a v-shaped formation, which looked like a club, due to the striped colours of their knee-length silken t-shirts.
This was merely the overture. He observed in fascination, as the bodies, including more of the alien types, began moving in a curious, shambling gait. Hartle caught the rhythm, and began to groove a little himself, conscious that he danced like a white man at the best of times. Their bizarre, long-armed, bandy-legged, ape-like shuffle was intriguing; he had to admit. As the music and the people began to speed up, he became aware that Sim was trying to grab his elbow and not having much luck.
“We must get off the dance floor.”
“Yeah, well, maybe I want to see this.”
“Watch from the side of the room!” Sim was practically shouting at him now.
He agreed a little unsteadily as they tried to make their way. What had been an empty, open space, was now covered in whirling dervishes, gymnasts, acrobats…when he felt the first hard elbow graze his rib cage it took a while to sink in.
“Excuse me, neighbours.”
The trio spun away. Then he took another hard one to the ribs just above the left kidney.
“That was a punch!” Sim was plainly frightened now.
A rock-solid, chitinous body slammed into him and he went down. He heard a shrill keening sound from the creature as he kicked upwards viciously. It scuttled right over him, putting a barbed foot-pod partly in his mouth, and suddenly his rage cracked wide open.
“Get your dirty alien mating-claspers off me, you creepy thing!” He shouted, all vestiges of courtesy and deportment gone.
Rolling and tumbling, he came up in a half crouch, hoping the thing was hurt real bad.
“Have your lost your marbles?” He bellowed at Sim. “You should have told me about the dancing.”
A quad of dancers, moving quickly in his left peripheral vision, targeted him. After a flurry of mutually exchanged blows with various members of the group, just as suddenly they broke off to engage another quad approaching. Hartle was furious, and came up again like a mongoose battling to make a cobra its dinner.
He ran at the bunch who had just attacked him, only to be grabbed and spun around, and he lost sight of them in eddies and currents of the dance. Lifting a leg and straightening it out real quick, Brendan managed to kick the boy who had grabbed him right in the face. There was a hot gush of satisfaction as the splash of blood vented. The boy’s two partners dragged him away by the legs, trailing bright yellow goo across the highly polished black tiles.
He had one brief moment of relative peace while the ebb and flow continued, and always that beat. Brendan gasped for air, with Sim beckoning from fifty metres away. Rival groups were attacking each other, and always, in time to the beat. Two big crabs came at him and he leaped on the nearest one’s head. Hartle tried to twist its antennae off by grabbing one and yanking as hard as he could. He kneed it in the side between two legs as he did so. The scream was so loud it startled him and he leaped off again with no trophy. He bared his teeth and growled and they both ran away.
Only fifty metres! In this crowd, it might as well be the other side of the Goddamned Galaxy!
“Fuck you all! Fuck all of you!” He stomped back and forth spitting mad. “Come on, you gutless fuckin’ little pukes.”
He bellowed, and then he was running at the wall of deadly dancers. Surreal in its bizarre incongruity, a spotlight followed him as he ran…
Wetness, warm and sticky, clouded his left eye. He brushed at it with a sleeve, and crashed into the line. Something in someone cracked with a brittle sound, and there came another shrill cry. His head jolted into his neck, there was greyness and stars, literally a flash of light in his head. He was pounding a fist into something’s abdomen. There was madness in him.
He lifted a knee into an obvious spot but got no response. He jabbed a thumb into its eye and it thought better of continuing the encounter. Again, someone raked his belly but it was a glancing strike and the clothing snagged and protected him. He popped it one in the kisser. Spinning, he was all arms and legs. A hole opened in the crowd, and he took a running, jumping dive, sliding to a halt right at Sim’s feet.
It was an oasis of peace and a kind of relative quiet here on the edge of the dance floor. Rolling over, he laid there, hoarse breath rasping in his throat. A semi-circular gaggle of citizens, all dressed in their Easter Bonnets and finery stared down at him.
“That was very impressive, young man.” An older female something or other with green eyes and head shaved bald stared at him through huge blue plastic pince-nez.
Four football-sized breasts heaved under her thin white blouse.
“You’re the best dancer we’ve seen tonight, at least so far.” Very upper class, you could tell by the diction, the terse elocution.
Maybe it had something to do with the long yellow bill, like a spoonbill or an egret. He got up stiffly.
“May I ask a personal question?”
She nodded, beckoning for something in a champagne-style glass. She only had four fingers, perhaps evolved from something like the tip feathers on a condor? Wow.
“What’s that thing sticking out of your ass?”
“It’s my tail, young man. We’re from Gallienus. We’re descended from avians.” She explained with a gracious nod.
“You’re very beautiful.” She simpered back at him and pecked at her stemware, filled with little multi-faceted pellets about three millimetres in diameter.
They were red and black. He had his breath back. She really was beautiful, in her own way. Her obviously male companion whispered in her ear and the pair of them giggled, nuzzling and cooing over some private joke, like mourning doves nestling together on a branch in winter.