Feature Story in Reader’s Life

Trisha Ratliff just did a story about me and Robot/Girlfriend in the latest edition of her publication, Reader’s Life Magazine! It’s free to read, and if you don’t like what I have to say, you might find a new favorite in authors V.A. Jeffrey and J.L. McCann.

Click here to get the magazine.

Thanks, Trisha!

Writer Talk with Benjamin Wallace

One of my favorite reads of 2016 was a Kindle book called Post-Apocalyptic Nomadic Warriors by Benjamin Wallace. The ad I saw for the book on Facebook promised “Max Max Meets Monty Python.” It was that, and it was much more. It was a truly funny book that gave today’s post-apocalyptic science fiction the long overdue parody treatment it deserved. 

I recently contacted Benjamin Wallace on Facebook, and he was kind enough to answer some questions about himself and his writing journey. If you’re a writer like me who aspires to turn your hobby into a full-time gig, this will inspire you. 

What inspired you to start writing?

I never really liked the idea of working. I figured writing would be a good way to avoid that. And people.

How did the idea for the Duck and Cover series come about?

The idea of today’s society trying to get by without today’s conveniences made me laugh. We wouldn’t stand a chance, but I don’t think we’d give up either. I saw a lot of potential humor in that. Also the post-apocalyptic genre has been begging for a lampooning since it first came about.

What writers inspired your style?

Steve Martin’s Cruel Shoes taught me that writing didn’t have to be serious.
Joseph Heller taught me that funny could still be respected. E. L. James taught me that you can write like s*** and still find an audience.

My writing style was probably more influenced by movies and comedians than any author. Harold Ramis, Pat Proft, SNL in the eighties, the Simpsons, Buck Henry and the list of legends would just kind of go on.

How did you approach the marketing of your books?

With a great deal of frustration. I spent a lot of years in advertising and expected that traditional approach to work. But books are different. Funny books are different still. What works for the thriller genre or romance doesn’t plug a play with humor. It’s taken a great deal of experimentation and twice that in swearing to start seeing some real results.

Did you use more social media or traditional ads to spread the word?

Traditional ads (print, TV, radio, etc..) are cost prohibitive to most indie authors. And, in my opinion, not as effective as they once were. I don’t pretend to understand my kids, but they don’t watch TV. They watch youtube. I can’t say they’ve ever held a magazine or newspaper. They stream their music. They don’t listen to the radio.

Twitter worked great the first year or so. Facebook is the flavor of the month now. But, any small change can upset a strategy based on purely on social media. Algorithms, trends, terms of service. Things change. And they change quickly.

The only sure strategy is to build an audience through consistent quality work stay engaged, be appreciative.

How did you know it was time to leave the day job and live your dream job?

Once I realized a few things:

I could get by with a combination of books and freelance ad work.

It costs more than you think to go to work each day.

Job security doesn’t really exist anywhere.

There was more earning potential in my books than there ever would be working for someone else.

Also, they laid me off.

The real trick was getting them to lay me off. That took some doing.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned that you could share with other writers?

Writing the book is the easy part. But it’s a business and running the business is where the work is.

Put in the time and money it takes to market it to your audience. It’s frustrating. And it can feel expensive. Okay, it is expensive. But it’s an investment that will pay off if you write decent books. Or 50 Shades of Grey. There’s a market for everything. If you start thinking in terms of ROI instead of pure sales that will help ease the sting a bit.

Read Post-Apocalyptic Nomadic Warriors and the rest of the Duck and Cover series on Amazon Kindle. 

Sci-fi Kindle Deals for $2.99

If you got a Kindle for Christmas, I have good news: you can stock up on science fiction for only $2.99 each.

All titles below are only $2.99 right now. Download and enjoy!

First New Book of 2017

The first new book of 2017 is actually… an old one!

Zorana has undergone many incarnations over the last decade. Originally titled Demonica, the story was first conceived as a comic book series, then as a short film series. It evolved into a short novella with twelve chapters – six written by the main character, six written by her arch-nemesis, the hapless super hero War Eagle.

I’ve expanded the story several times over the years, and I’ve also written two short pieces as off-shoots from the main story. The newest version of the book includes these two stories, several new chapters, and one more brand new story written by my copy editor Austin Nichols.

Zorana tells the story of a super-villain who, after suffering a crushing defeat at the hands of War Eagle, decides to head home for the holidays. Home, in this case, is a small town in Iowa called Smalltown, Iowa. The woman formerly known as Monica Deluna begins to reconnect with family and friends she hasn’t seen in years, but the joyous reunion is bittersweet as she also reconnects with the faith she left behind.

What’s worse, the sins of her past follow her home. War Eagle, rival villains, and other scoundrels begin to converge on Demonica, hoping to make her pay for the past. Will Zorana meet a bitter end, or is there any chance a former super-villain can find redemption?

Zorana: Confessions of a Small Town Super-Villain will be released in paperback on Amazon.com.

Looking Back at 2016

I keep a checklist of projects on my desktop filled with short-term and long-term goals that get erased as I complete them. When a project is done, it’s deleted, which means I keep record of what’s left to be done and not what’s completed. This year, I decided to look back and, as best as I can, figure up just how much I did in the last year. Turns out I’ve been a little busy. Here, as best as I can remember it all, is what happened in 2016:

Lunch Hour Films, my unofficial short film label the last couple of years, released three shorts in 2016: Drunk Dial from Outer Space, Final Ultimatum, and I Almost Married a Man from Outer Space. An older film, ‘Til Zombies Do Us Part was accepted to the Fright Night Film Festival in November. My friend Cindy Maples also released a short film called Out of My Mind, based on the short story called “Drip Drip.” She took what I think is a mediocre short story and turned it into a shocking little horror flick that seems poised to follow in the footsteps of short film Random and rack up a ton of awards.

A desire to reduce my stress load and focus more on wrestling led to the decision this fall to step away from film making indefinitely, so Lunch Hour will not be producing anything in the coming year. That said, I will be producing a second season of Hauss Show this winter, the wrestling themed sketch comedy series I created with Marc Hauss.

My fiction output was light in 2016, with the June release of a repackaged short story collection, Robot/Girlfriend, and the ebook only release of the noir faiy tale trilogy, The Big Bad Goodnight. Three new books are currently in the works for 2017 and beyond, including Return to Cave World, a sequel to Cave World; a new edition of Demonica: Confessions of a Small Town Super-Villain; and a brand new story, Die Max Die.

Summer also saw the release of Lord Carlton: Wrestler, Artist, My Father, the biography of Lord Leslie Carlton. Carlton is a somewhat lost figure in wrestling history. He had a similar gimmick to Gorgeous George, having stolen the act from the same person George did, Lord Lansdowne. But while his life has been overshadowed by the Gorgeous One, his life story out of the ring was full of more drama and intrigue than even the Human Orchid could muster. Carlton was also a talented painter, and he spent much of his later life surviving attempts by his second wife to murder him!

Much of the year was spent working on a new Louisville wrestling history titled Louisville’s Greatest Show. Unlike its predecessor Bluegrass Brawlers, this book with focus solely on 1935-1957, the years the Allen Athletic Club reigned supreme with stars like Lou Thesz, Bill Longson, New Albany’s own Stu Gibson, and the aforementioned Gorgeous George. Louisville’s Greatest Show should be ready for release in spring of 2017.

I’ve already struck a deal for my next wrestling book, a new autobiography by a former WWF star, but I’m not ready to announce it publicly just yet. I’ll be diving in on that project full steam around March.

On top of all this, I found the time to write twenty-eight new curriculum series for Children’s Ministry Deals, contribute to Go Fish’s 2017 VBS curriculum, begin production on my first stage play in almost six years, and completely rebuild this website.

So what’s ahead for 2017? First up, I’ll be producing the play Morbidman Meets His Maker asa fundraiser for Power Ministries in New Albany, Indiana. Marc Hauss and I are also hard at work on season two of Hauss Show, and if all goes well, a second wrestling-themed sketch show will see the light of day in 2017. I expect to release at least three books with Return to Cave World, Demonica, and Louisville’s Greatest Show, and I plan to get out to a number of book signings, author fairs, and wrestling shows.

I hope all of you reading this have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Looking forward to what 2017 has to bring!

Coming in 2017 – The Birth of a New Book

I have written several science fiction novels over the last seventeen years. I couldn’t tell you where the ideas for all but one or two came from. Each one started with a flash of an idea, but that flash was lost in the hours of writing and revising. I’ve been working on a new one for the last four weeks, and since it’s still fresh in my mind, I thought I would share.

Thursday afternoon, November 10. About 4:15 in the afternoon I’m walking back to my desk when an idea comes to mind. What if there was a guy who told every girl who dumped him that somewhere, in an alternate universe, the two of them live happily ever after? What if after saying this to a girl, that same girl from an alternate universe comes looking for him?

When I leave work that afternoon I then ask another question: What if she doesn’t come looking for the guy because she loves him? What if she wants to kill him?

A few hours later I drive my kids, ages 7 and 9, to the library. I pitch the idea to them, and they start pitching ideas back? (We’ve been doing this since they were babies, when I used to make up stories for them at bed time.) They named three of my main characters. I keep two of the names: Shanna and Angie.

About 11 PM I doze off in front of the keyboard. I wake up at 1 AM – and I outline the entire story. In short order I have four main characters and synopses for 29 chapters.

I write a few chapters over the weekend, a couple thousand words. I base my main characters on people I’ve known in the past, a technique that always makes developing characters easier. Suddenly, out of nowhere, one of my favorite classic movie stars enters the story. She becomes a key character. She also becomes part of a parody of modern sci-fi writers who lace their stories with 80s references.

I’m having a ton of fun.

Work slows me down the following week. Meanwhile, my son is still pondering this alternate universe idea. He makes me a short list of ideas for alternate worlds. Then, right before Thanksgiving, he does this:

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Seven years old, folks. The boy has quite the imagination!

It’s slow going after Thanksgiving, but the story progresses a little at a time. I find myself doubling back, fixing holes here and there, adding more back story. A really funny subplot (too complicated to explain here) develops. The further I go, the more momentum I get. I get back to a chapter a night progress.

On Tuesday night, December 6, after brainstorming through a number of terrible ideas, I hit on a title I like. It’s different than any I’ve used before, and it’s memorable: DIE MAX DIE.

Tomorrow marks the 4 week point. I’m about 2/3rds of the way done. The story has taken some crazy turns, but it’s pouring out of the imagination now. It’s a little frustrating because I’m neglecting other more profitable writing projects to try and finish this one. I keep going because (1) I’m having fun and (2) my kids are really excited about it.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a kids story. But it’s also not laced with stuff I don’t want my kids reading. It may be PG, but it’ll engage any age reader who likes a little fun – and funny – in their sci-fi.

It’ll also be a quick read. 30K words, if I’m lucky. I could expand on that, I guess, but why? I don’t want to bog it down with fluff. And those 1000 page Game of Thrones epics just aren’t my style.

Like most of my books, it’ll be open for a sequel. Not that it’ll happen. The story will have to be there and be at least as much fun. First things first: I’m shooting for a Fall 2017 release, and I hope all of you will love it.

Cyber Monday Special – $10 Signed Books Available!

Frank Jordan: Evil SnowmanIf you’ve got readers, young or old, on your Christmas list, here’s a deal for you:

Now through Sunday December 4, you can order signed copies of Frank Jordan: Evil Snowman, Bluegrass Brawlers, Robot/Girlfriend, or Tales from the Dad Side for only $10 direct from me with free shipping!

Books will be shipped by Monday December 5 via First Class Mail. Quantities are limited (I have about a half dozen of each on the shelf!) so first come first served.

Email me at johncosper@yahoo.com for Paypal instructions.

Merry Christmas!

Gift Ideas for the Sci-Fi Fan on Your List!

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are upon us! if you’re shopping for a fan of science fiction and don’t know what to buy this year, here are a few suggestions from my own reading this past year.

Ctrl-Alt-Revolt is a devilishly clever twist on the robot apocalypse. What if, author Nick Cole mused, the story of Terminator were told not just from the human point of view, but that of the robots? Ctrl-Alt-Revolt gives you both sides of the story, as the machines decide the best thing for the world is simply to eradicate all human life before they wise up and eliminate the machines. It’s bleak and at times brutal, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself pulling for the wrong side.

Amish Vampires in Space is a treat for fans of sci-fi and vampires, but maybe not fans of Amish romance fiction. Beyond the amusing title and the amazing cover at is a serious science fiction tale that has far more chills than chuckles. Kerry Nietz took a ridiculous premise and turned it into a story that explores issues of faith as powerfully as it does the challenges of interstellar travel and the living dead. It’s the longest of the novels on my recommendation list, and it is a page turner you can’t put down.

Paul Regnier’s debut novel Space Drifters: The Emerald Enigma is part Firefly, part Hitchhiker’s Guide, and part Tripping the Rift (minus the dirty stuff). Space Drifters is the tale of a ship’s captain, an alien with unusual powers of the mind, a woman with a secret, and a kid from modern day Earth with a Bible. Like Amish Vampires, it’s written with a Christian viewpoint, but the author never beats you over the head with the Bible. It’s woven into the humor of the story in a very clever way, and the story is laugh out loud funny.

Finally, there’s Benjamin Wallace’s post-apocalyptic adventure story, Post-Apocalyptic Nomadic Warriors. This novel was advertised as Mad Max meets Monty Python, and while the humor doesn’t quite feel like Python, it’s extremely funny. The story of a would-be hero looking for a city in peril to save will keep you laughing, while giving you a healthy fear of the super smart bears that will one day dominate our planet.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind readers I have a number of science fiction offerings as well, including the popular short story collection Robot/Girlfriend. Give these and my holiday recommendations a look on Amazon this week.

Book giveaway – Martian Queen

Martian QueenI have one last book giveaway on Goodreads this fall, and it’s a good one. Martian Queen: The Adventures of Stewart John Jones of Mars, was my first space opera novel. Inspired by the tales of the legendary John Carter and Lt. Gulliver Jones (Google that one, if you’ve never heard of him), Martian Queen tells the tale of a modern day sci-fi buff who accidentally ends up on the red planet. Stewart discovers Mars to be his kind of place, where leisure and doing nothing take precedent over hard work, but when the Martian girl of his dreams is taken from him and no one lifts a finger to stop it, Stewart sets out on the adventure of a lifetime.

I’m giving away three copies of the book featuring a limited edition cover by Chicago-based artist, Erik Hodson. These are the LAST books with this cover, so it’s your last chance to grab one!

Watch the trailer below, then go to Goodreads and enter the giveaway today. Contest ends Monday, November 21!