Month:

June, 2016

 

For a limited time, the first three books in my bestselling JET series are bundled at a special price of $3.99.JET_BOXSET_1-3I do this because I love our country, Mom, apple pie, puppies, Grandma, Jesus, and the flag.

Also, because summer is beach read time, and what better way to while away the hours than following the harrowing exploits of a female Bond/Bourne kicking ass and taking names?

Most have already read the JET series, but in the event you’ve been living in a cave for the last few years or are so cheap that paying the paltry few dollars that is the full price of each novel is simply too much, this is your big chance to live like a Kardashian! Go, go, go! It doesn’t get any better than this. Really. I mean, I’m sure it does, but not from me.

It’s specially priced on all platforms, not just Amazon, BTW, so if you hate their guts and want to see them dead in the gutter covered with trash and feces, you can find it on iTunes, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords, too.

The important thing is that you act before I come to my senses (code for sober up).

Best be quick about it.

 

 

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10 Jun 2016, by

Five years

Five years ago, I pressed publish on my first self-pubbed novel, Fatal Exchange.

That went by fast.

And now, as I’m preparing to write the fourth in The Day After Never series, the final installment in that arc, I realize I’m closing in on 50 novels in 60 months.

That’s shocking, even to me.

Then again, go big or go home, right? You’re only on the planet for a blink, so if you’re going to pursue a passion, might as well go all in.

On the release schedule for 2016 are The Goddess Legacy, which is a book I’m particularly proud of, and is probably my best novel of its kind to date, The Day After Never 4, and a JET. I may sneak in another one if I get bored, but you never know – I’m supposed to be slowing my pace.

That’s gone well so far.

Thanks to one and all for continuing to support my scribbling – it means a lot to me to be able to do this for a living. Actually, in this economy, it means a lot to be able to do anything for a living, but don’t get me started.

The business has changed to the point it’s hardly recognizable, but one consistent trend is that it’s getting harder to gain visibility with each passing quarter. I expect that to continue.

Having said that, nobody owes anyone a living, and if you want to write books for your dinner, it will be tough, as it has been throughout history. But every year there will be breakthroughs, surprises, and hits out of left field, and every year underserved niches will see authors coming in and delivering product voracious readers want.

Meanwhile, I will continue to write books I would enjoy reading, and thank providence things have worked out so far.

Maybe it’s the second 50 novels that will do the trick!

 

 

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The third in the bestselling Ramsey’s adventure series, titled The Goddess Legacy, has gone up on all platforms for pre-order, to release August 19th, 2016.

This is a particularly good one, in my opinion. It represents the fine-tuning of the plotting approach I laid out in “How to write a page-turner” and moves like a runaway freight train. I’m quite proud of how it turned out, and believe my readers will love everything about it. It’s chock full of twists and turns, reversals and surprises, and ups the ante considerably on my storytelling.

Here’s a cover reveal, followed by the first chapter.

Trees in Monkey Forest in the city of Ubud. Bali, Indonesia

 

And here’s the first chapter – enjoy with my compliments:

The Goddess Legacy

(c) 2016

Russell Blake

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Chapter 1

Old Delhi, India

 

A pall of exhaust hung over India’s capital city, a hazy cloud that lingered in the still night air like a toxic mist. Everett Carson, lightheaded from the third celebratory cocktail he’d downed against his better judgment only minutes before, walked unsteadily down what passed for a sidewalk, dodging piles of refuse. The restaurant’s festive lights receded in the gloom behind him, and as he made his way down the dark street he realized that it was later than he’d thought, his meeting having taken considerably longer than planned. Still, it had been worth it, and now that the question of financing was answered, he was tantalizingly close to his objective.

The area was deserted; the daytime crowds had vanished as the sun sank into the horizon, leaving the street eerily silent. His footsteps sounded unsteady to his ear, and he picked up his pace, wary of inviting unwanted attention in a district that could get ugly at a moment’s notice.

Two men in dark robes stepped from a doorway halfway down the narrow block, and Carson’s stomach tightened. He told himself that he was too close to the main boulevard for there to be any danger, but his breath caught in his throat when he got a better look at the approaching figures, their onyx eyes glinting in the faint light from a passing car and their body language radiating menace. Adrenaline flooded his senses at the urgent determination in their stride, and he realized belatedly that he was anything but safe on the empty sidewalk.

Carson made a snap decision and darted between two cars. A loud honk blared from his right as he stepped into the street and narrowly dodged the front fender of a sedan barreling down on him. He cursed and skirted an overloaded truck lumbering along in the opposite direction, laborers on the running boards gripping the roof rack for support, and then continued across once the vehicle passed.

He hopped across a wide puddle and almost slipped when he landed hard, wrenching his ankle. He winced but kept moving, and when he reached the far curb, glanced over his shoulder.

The men were nowhere to be seen.

Carson shook his head to clear it and exhaled as he gingerly stepped onto the uneven concrete rise. A stream of noxious fluid, the surge the last of the runoff from a late afternoon cloudburst, burbled in the gutter around a clot of trash. A figure stepped into his path from the gloom and Carson stiffened. The man’s hand was outstretched, blocking Carson’s way.

“A few rupees, mister?” a sandpaper voice pleaded in heavily accented English.

Carson’s nose wrinkled at the stench drifting from the beggar, a rancid combination of filth, sour sweat, and decay. The vagrant eyed him hopefully through milky eyes, his jaundiced skin the texture of old leather, his trembling arm little more than bones and sinew. Carson pushed past, leaving the beggar leaning on a makeshift crutch fashioned from a broom handle, the soiled bandages that enveloped his stump of a left leg dotted with flies.

Carson’s pulse thudded in his ears as he willed himself calm, chastising himself for allowing his imagination to get the better of him. The main avenue was only two more blocks, and he’d be there in no time. He could easily do this.

Running footfalls thudded in his wake as he turned the corner, and his relief dissolved into fear – the city had a deserved reputation as treacherous for the unwary. He looked around for a taxi, but there were no cars on this street, and he swore under his breath at his carelessness. He’d dropped his guard for only a moment, but that had been enough in a town that offered no quarter. His pale complexion announced him as easy prey, a visitor in a country where he didn’t belong, and now his pursuers were closing in, no doubt planning to mug him.

Carson hurried along the narrow strip of sidewalk toward the far intersection. The long block seeming to stretch endlessly before him, leaving him to navigate around muddy gaps in the concrete where the pavement had washed away. He dared a look behind him but didn’t see anything other than iron barred windows and shadowy doorways, and he slowed as he quelled the panic he’d succumbed to.

What was wrong with him?

It wasn’t like he was helpless – he’d spent his life in the military, where he’d seen enough combat to fuel decades of sleepless nights with the phantoms of his squad mates and those he’d gunned down. Even now he cut an imposing figure for a man of his years, his silver hair cropped close to his skull, his shoulders square, frown lines scoring a seasoned face beneath hard cobalt eyes. Any thieves foolhardy enough to tackle him would be in for an unpleasant surprise, he assured himself, although the coil of anxiety in his gut twisted tighter as he strode past crumbling, graffiti-marred façades.

Carson swerved abruptly, narrowly avoiding a pile of cow dung in his path, a regular consequence of the sacred beasts that roamed unfettered even in the cosmopolitan areas. He skirted the lump and stopped in his tracks when another figure appeared from the shadows ahead of him, moving with a cautious precision that he instantly recognized as professional.

He looked around for anything he could use as a weapon, but saw nothing. Carson quickly calculated the distance to the next street and his odds of dodging the newcomer, but dismissed it. Soles pounding on the street behind him decided his course, and he ran to a dark opening between two buildings – a pedestrian walkway between deteriorating tenements. He sprinted down the muddy track, and then skidded to a stop when he came face-to-face with a massive head, its baleful eyes staring at him with bovine indifference.

Carson glared at the cow in the faint light and edged past it, ignoring the pink dust that rubbed on his clothes from where its hide had been festively colored by the faithful. He was just past the enormous beast when he heard his pursuers trail him into the passage. He slapped the cow’s haunch to goad it into charging them and sprinted as fast as he could for the far end, not waiting to see the effect of his effort.

At the next street he spotted a taxi creeping his way and flagged it down, hoping he didn’t look so frantic he would scare the driver off. The car slowed to a stop, and he was reaching for the rear door handle when the pair emerged from the passageway behind him. The driver blanched at the sight and stomped on the gas, leaving Carson standing alone, fully exposed.

He tore toward the glowing doorway of a curry restaurant, where a dim yellow sign over the storefront promised the best food in all India, and edged by a startled hostess in a golden sari before shouldering his way through the packed dining room, past the cash register in the rear, and through a pair of scarred double doors.

A half dozen cooks labored over pots of steaming gruel beside two dishwashers in a corner scrubbing wooden bowls. Across from them, a wiry man chopped vegetables on a length of plywood with an oversized blade, his expression blank, head bobbing slightly with the music from a boom box on a shelf over the prep area. All looked up at Carson in surprise as he burst into the cramped cooking area and made for the rear door. A cry of protest went up from the two closest women, one of whom shook a stew-slathered ladle at him. Ignoring the commotion, he ran to the exit, hoping his pursuers had decided their easy target was now too visible to attack.

He gagged at the stench rising from the garbage cans in the hot storage area, and swung the shabby wooden door wide. Outside he skirted a dumpster and shuddered at the sight of rats scurrying away down glistening pavement. His eyes adjusted to the darkness, and he inched along the brick wall, straining his ears for any hint of pursuit.

Satisfied that he was in the clear, he strode toward the street at the end of the access-way, his footsteps the only sound other than the distant hum of traffic and the constant percussive horn toots echoing off the high walls. As he neared the alley mouth, he gasped when a figure draped in the robes of a tantric priest stepped from the darkness to block his way. Carson recoiled at the man’s filthy, matted beard and hair, and then locked on his face – a demonic vision smeared with gray ash, his mangled mouth stretched into a permanent sneer by mottled scar tissue, revealing blackened teeth filed to sharp points. The man’s eyes bored into Carson, and then a hoarse rasp issued from his ruined lips and he leaned forward. His breath stank like an open grave. Moonlight glinted off the curved blade of a knife in his hand, and he hissed at Carson like a cobra as he feinted low and lunged.

Carson tensed, prepared to parry the thrust, and then abruptly jerked backward as razor-sharp wire looped over his head in a flash and bit into his larynx. His last breath gurgled from his ruined throat as powerful arms pulled the wire through sinew, tissue, and bone with a single heave. Carson’s body twitched spasmodically and collapsed in a heap, blood pulsing from his stub of neck. His head slammed against the pavement and bounced into the alley before settling five feet from his torso, where his sightless eyes stared in surprise at the unlikely spectacle of his headless corpse spasming in a crimson pool.

The robed man nodded once to his companion, who removed a cheap plastic raincoat that had shielded his garments from the shower of blood, and pocketed the garrote. The assassin rolled the slick covering into a neat bundle while the robed man knelt and quickly went through Carson’s pockets. Finding nothing but a wallet and a room key, he straightened and shook his head.

The pair soundlessly vanished into the gloom, leaving Carson’s remains to the rats making their way from the dumpster, the prospect of an easy meal having overpowered the animals’ natural caution. The restaurant’s service door opened with a creak and an outraged cook with a meat cleaver stepped outside, but his anger turned to panic at the grisly spectacle of ravenous vermin overwhelming the body near the alley mouth.

 

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