Two books with one stone: Black Candies and Last Night on Earth

Over the last two months, my friends and I have been at work putting together two books, and this morning, we can finally put the nail in both of them. It’s quite an accomplishment, really, and I want to tell you about them.

First off: Black Candies – a journal of literary horror.

Black Candies has been a passion project of mine to get some of my favorite literary writers to indulge their most horrific writing. This year, I got five great writers to write on the theme of “Post Apocalypse” (a concept I’ve been obsessed with over the last year); with some really great variations on said theme. The line-up for these authors goes:

Oh and the thing has art too. Some really great art, in fact. I really don’t want to show it to you cuz that would give it all away. Here are the artists:

So yeah, the stories in here are scary. Perfect time to get your spooks on!

Next book is Last Night on Earth.
If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know that I’ve talked about this book here before, and there are really too many authors to call out, but it’s so, so great. My constant collaborator/friend/partner in crime (also Black Candies contributor) Jay Wertzler did the book design on this one. When I woke up to find his finished pdf in my inbox, I had to stand up and walk away from my computer. It’s just so breathtaking to see something you’ve been working on for so long finally be real. It has a face now – a glorious, immaculate face. Again, I can’t thank him enough for his hard work.

And of course, none of these would’ve been possible without Justin Hudnall, a true frontiersman. His constant encouragement and belief has made both these projects not only possible, but bigger and greater than anything I could’ve accomplished on my own.

I’ll keep you posted on when/where to get them.

Last Night on Earth (final cover)

There it is, folks.

It was barely over a year ago that Justin and I were drinking whiskey on my front porch, and he was telling me about his idea for a book. It was an idea that we’ve all thought about – what would you do with 24 hours to live?

We wanted to go further than an creating an anthology–we wanted to create a crowd-sourced book that followed a singular, narrative arc. We had pretty specific rules:

  • Try to write a scene that takes place during one particular time of the day. This will be much easier for us to edit into the final product than if you write a story that spans the entire day. If you do need to use different moments in time during the last day, try to break them up into smaller separate scenes. We’ll be arranging the final stories in a chronological order that takes the reader through the entire last day on earth, and are able to revisit your story at multiple points throughout the book.
  • The recurring idea that has arisen from discussing the concept over the last two years is that for most of us, we only appreciate parts of our lives when they’re over. By knowing we are going to end, we’d actually notice and value how we live, once the expectation of “a future” is removed. You do not have to agree or follow that idea, but I thought it worth sharing.

A recap of the general rules of the world and our time-line:

  • No mass hysteria.
  • No available air travel.
  • The end will come suddenly but painlessly, shortly after midnight / during early morning in the dark hours.
  • The roads, depending on where you are, may be clogged with traffic but are open.
  • It is never specified how the end of the world is coming.
  • Phones connect sporadically.

I’m thrilled with the amount of talent in this book. We are on our third round of editing, and we have a pretty good idea of how the book is turning out. I’m just going to say that you should be pretty excited.

Making of – Last Night on Earth book cover

I recently came across an article that heralded the importance of cover art, to which I absolutely agree. I think  the “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover…” saying is more applicable to people in Rachael Leigh Cook movies than books now.

At the moment, I’m co-editing a collection called “Last Night on Earth” – a novel approach to the anthology that travels through multiple authors’ final 24-hours – what they would do, how they would live, etc. Kind of like a crowd-sourced book. The stories range from bleak, funny, heartbreaking, despairing and hopeful.

I wanted to design a cover that encompassed all of those. This is what I came up with:

I knew I wanted it to be black and white. I wanted it to be stark. I had the idea of the world blown away like sand. You can kind of do this effect in Photoshop (with the smear finger), but I’ve never had much luck getting things to look organic with that. So I searched “earth stencil” in google which came up with:

I threw that into photoshop, inverted the image and made it black and white — so black continents on a white ocean. I printed that image out.

Using a Uni Ball Vision Elite BOLD pen, I scribbled on the edges of the continents. The ink in these pens is very susceptible to smearing, so after scribbling I ran my finger over it… creating that smeared/blown-sand look. I had to do it a couple times to get the wind-direction somewhat consistent.

Finally (original scan):

I liked how it looked slightly Stephen Gammell-ish, but ultimately didn’t like the garish, coal look. I threw it back into photoshop, re-inverted the image, and upped the levels. It looked good. It looked like sand/snow-blown. But it also looked glowing – as if everyone’s last night is going to be lit-up, celebratory. It seems bleak and uplifting at the same time. Singular and iconic.

Hopefully, you enjoy it.


Last Night on Earth

Thank you all so much for looking/commenting on my dog pictures! I never imagined that a couple blurry photos would strike a nerve with so many people, but it’s been very exciting, to say the least.

If you’re new here, let me introduce myself. Yes, I deliver mail with the USPS, a job which I love (most of the time), but I come from a creative background. Because there are few paying jobs in my fields of interest, I try to spend as much time writing, drawing, photoshopping, and video-making that I can when I’m not at work. It keeps me sane.

Right now, I’m acting as Creative Director for San Diego’s best non-profit, arts-advocacy organization, So Say We All, which is embarking on a really huge, really awesome project… and we want you in on the action.

Simply, the Last Night on Earth project is a going to be a book , our first book, to be exact. We’ve called in favors from some of the best writers in the country to submit stories of what they would do if they only had 24 hours to live, or as our promo stuff says: When everything around you is going to die, how do you live? It’s going to be exciting, heart-felt, frighteningly-hilarious and hilariously-frightening.

“Enough with the jibba-jabba!” you say. “How can I support this ultra-cool project that will make me super attractive to potential love interests???”

Well, I’m glad you asked. You see, we set up this little Kickstarter fund-raising site right HERE, which gives you more information about the project, presented in a video that I co-wrote/co-directed, because reading… meh. Oh, and did I mention there are incentives we give you for donating?

So please support non-profit art. It makes you feel good about yourself and it feeds So Say We All’s executive director for another week.

Thanks a ton!