Hopjockey

Created by Matt Vancil

Sandy has a problem—aside from the cancer. No one on campus believes he saw the ghost building. And why would they? It's a stupid legend—no one really believes the Old Admin building vanished in the 70s—and what Sandy saw was right after he restarted chemo. Clearly he was hallucinating. That would explain it. What it doesn't explain is the postcard Sandy found in his dorm room the night the building appeared—or why the girl on the postcard appears to be the barista down at the Hub. You know, the girl he's in love with. Turns out she's a hopjockey—a cross-world troublemaker—and she's been looking for him. Or rather, she's been looking for who she thinks he is. She's mistaken him for Garrett—Sandy's genius roommate, likely this generation's Einstein—and needs his help reading a map beyond all comprehension. Weighing his heart against the truth, and not wanting to miss what may be his only real chance for adventure, Sandy does what anyone might have done in that situation: he lies. And as a result, triggers a series of events that will destroy the campus (and the rest of the universe).

Latest Updates from Our Project:

The Stray finds a new home
3 months ago – Fri, Dec 14, 2018 at 05:30:37 PM

Hi, all.

Last week, based on backer interest, I said I’d let you know when and where you could find after-campaign copies of The Stray and the Hole in the Stars. The when is now, and the where is from the hoard of the insatiable book dragon.

At the moment, only softcover editions are available. We’ve been having some issues with the dragon’s ebook creator; I’ve got an email in to customer service and expect to have that resolved soonish. But if you wanted to snag a physical copy for, say, an upcoming gift giving holiday or whatever, there’s still time.

Also! If you’ve had a chance to read the book, and are so inclined, please consider leaving a review. I can’t overstate how helpful Amazon reviews are for independent authors—they go a long way towards increasing our discoverability and getting our works into the dragon’s recommendation matrix.

I originally called Amazon a dragon as a joke, but now I can’t get the comparison out of my head. All hail the mighty book dragon! (Please don’t eat me.)

That’s all. A merry merry and happy happy. Take care.

—Matt

Shipping Complete(ish)
3 months ago – Thu, Dec 06, 2018 at 01:15:55 AM

Fire the Shipping Catapult!

not all of the packages, but dang close
not all of the packages, but dang close

A quick update on fulfillment. As of yesterday, all domestic packages had been shipped, as had half the international parcels. The other half would have gone out today, but the USPS is shut down due to the passing of the 41st president. Shipping will continue and conclude tomorrow. And then you'll all have your books!

Where to find more strays

A couple of folks have asked where they can find a copy of the book outside the Kickstarter and BackerKit campaigns. Next week, The Stray and the Hole in the Stars will go live on Amazon, with both ebook and print-on-demand softcover editions available. This should provide enough time for anyone who wants to pick up any additional copies to receive them before the holidays. I'll send out the link once it's live.

And… that's all, I guess

I have no more to share.
The salmon all are in the stream.
The seeds are in the air.
pictured: a metaphor (forced)
pictured: a metaphor (forced)

I sincerely hope you enjoy the book. Writing it was a blast. Thank you for giving me the opportunity.

–Matt

They're here! They're finally here!
4 months ago – Sat, Nov 17, 2018 at 12:59:11 AM

Shipping to begin Nov. 26

After so many months and revisions and delays, we finally have print copies in hand. The last of the books arrived today to our warehouse (i.e., my garage). Here they lie in cardboard-shrouded majesty.

All that remains is to slap on the sigs, stuff books into mailers, and load up the shipping catapult. The aim (which is better than the catapult’s) is to get everyone their books before Christmas devours the rest of the year. Cards will be charged via BackerKit next Tuesday, Nov. 20, with fulfillment to begin the following Monday.

What’s in a name?

You may have noticed the title of the book has changed.

That wasn’t something we were planning. That’s not the sort of thing you do two days before placing the print run.

Here’s what happened. There’s a writer I follow on Twitter named Matt Wallace (@MattFnWallace), a former pro wrestler who’s equally skilled at slamming words. His feed’s a hoot—I recommend it for the unfiltered opinions about the publishing process and the pwnage of overconfident trolls.

Anyway, back on topic. The Gramma Slamma (don't tell him I called him that) has gotten major kudos from fellow writers for never having had one of his books' titles change during the editing process. Quite the rare feat. When asked about his technique, Wallace said when it comes time to name one of his novels, he imagines his book has died, and he’s writing its obituary. The headline for that obituary becomes the title of his book.

Out of mere curiosity, I figured I’d apply the technique to Hopjockey, not expecting the results to stick. It took about fourteen seconds to come up with a better name. Hence the new title: The Stray and the Hole in the Stars.

Which is so much better, you guys. Because it actually communicates some hint of what the book’s about. Unlike Hopjockey, which most folks think has something to do with beer.

I’m not losing the original title entirely. Hopjockey will become the name of the series, with The Stray its first installment. If, that is, there winds up being a series. Might be a standalone; we’ll see what happens. Regardless, the book should be in your hands before auld acquaintance be forgot.

Thanks, everyone! Book barrage incoming!

—Matt

Proof
6 months ago – Fri, Sep 14, 2018 at 02:36:49 AM

It's here!

The proof is finally here! It arrived a little banged up, just like its writer, but not a word was knocked out of place.

Front cover. Artwork by Jacob Blackmon.
Front cover. Artwork by Jacob Blackmon.
A peek at the text. Layout by Kº Wiley.
A peek at the text. Layout by Kº Wiley.
Back cover. Artwork by Jacob Blackmon, layout by Kº Wiley.
Back cover. Artwork by Jacob Blackmon, layout by Kº Wiley.
For comparison
For comparison

We ordered the gloss cover for the proof, but after seeing and feeling it we’ll be going with the matte finish for the print run. I find the tactility of a matte cover more aesthetically pleasing—helps you keep a grip on it. Plus, unlike a gloss cover, it won’t occasionally blind you if the light hits it just right.

The next step is placing the order for the pint run. And after that, shipment! We are in the final stretch. Or the penultimate one, at least.

56 hours left to back The Fatal Frontier

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the campaign for the next novel, The Fatal Frontier, concludes in just over two days. As of this writing, the Kickstarter is 83% funded, which is a good place to be for the final push. If you’ve been holding off backing, now’s the time to do it, as the tick tocks are in short supply. And if this is the first you’re heading of the project, you can read a preview chapter at the campaign site.

Thank you, one and all, for your patience and support. We're almost there!

—Matt

A Pair of Previews
7 months ago – Fri, Aug 24, 2018 at 05:33:08 PM

Hopjockey Cover in Progress

Some exciting news today, on a couple of fronts. First and foremost, layout is complete! All that’s left is to finalize the cover art (see below), order a proof, and then publish the bastard.

Here’s a peek at the front and back covers. To match the throwback theme of the novel, we looked to the box art of the old Infocom text-based games for inspiration. We’re still toying with it, but here’s what we’ve got so far.

front cover
front cover
back cover
back cover

When it’s done, this would feel right at home alongside my copies of Trinity and Leather Goddesses of Phobos. (I fib. My copy of LGOP was a bootleg. That I got when I was eight. I set that sucker to lewd and played the crap out of it and that’s probably more than you need to know about my formative years.)


The Next Campaign

I went back and forth over whether to start a new campaign before Hopjockey was in your hands. But after consultation with the producers of JourneyQuest on the production schedule and with the semester approaching, this was the only window of opportunity, so I’m diving through it.

I’ve broken ground on my next novel, The Fatal Frontier. It’s set in a familiar future where our technology’s advanced but our ethics haven’t. The redder your shirt, the shorter your life expectancy. You can download the preview chapter at one of these links, or read it online:

The Kickstarter campaign runs from now until September 15.

ONWARD!

—Matt