Category:

Russell Blake

March 17, 2012.

The official launch date of my newest novel, The Voynich Cypher.

An exciting book for me, as it represents a departure from my customary conspiracy thriller fare. Most of my novels are cast in the tradition of Robert Ludlum and Frederick Forsyth. But not Voynich. This is a completely different kind of thriller.

_____________________

AN EVEN NEWER BREAKING NEWS: A fun interview on process with Emerald Barnes.

NEW BREAKING NEWS! A fabulous interview with The Indie View on Voynich, writing, process & life.

BREAKING NEWS!  Great interview with bestselling award-winning author Melissa Foster on writing The Voynich Cypher, clowns, Satan and nude ice dancing.

UPDATE: New interview with Amber Norrgard. One of my favorites yet, with an awesome poet/author/friend.

NEWSFLASH: Book review of The Voynich Cypher by bestselling author Steven Konkoly. This is a must read.

NEWS: Guest blog wherein I discuss the writing of The Voynich Cypher and the big idea behind it at The Veil War blog.

BOOK REVIEW: A great book review of The Voynich Cypher by Books N Beans.

ANOTHER BOOK REVIEW: This time from Kate’s Reads. Nice!

_____________________

The Voynich Cypher is an unusual kind of a book for me to pen. A pure adventure thriller in the mold of The Da Vinci Code, Foucault’s Pendulum and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Featuring the protagonist from Zero Sum, my Wall Street thriller – Dr. Steven Archer Cross.

It’s a race of a read, 100K words, and no fat or fluff. Just relentless story. And quite a story it is.

For more detail on what I was trying to accomplish or how I went about writing this one, read some of the above interviews and blogs. No point in belaboring them here. What I will say is that the end result surpassed even my most wild hopes, and is some of my best work to date. Suffice it to say I’m proud as hell of this book, and believe it will be the one that breaks it wide open.

It will be specially priced from its selling price of $5.97 for the launch, slashed to $3.33, and that pricing could end at any moment – I’m deeply discounting it so that it gets as many early readers as possible. So go buy it. Buy two, and give one to your dog or cat.

The synopsis pretty much covers what you can expect out of the book: When a sacred relic is stolen from its subterranean guarded vault, Dr. Steven Cross, amateur cryptographer, becomes embroiled in a deadly quest to decipher one of history’s most enigmatic documents – a 15th century parchment written entirely in unbreakable code; The Voynich Manuscript. Stalked by secret societies, and aided by the daughter of a murdered colleague, a trail of riddles catapults Cross from England to Italy to the Middle East, where a Byzantine web of ancient secrets leads him to a revelation so profound it will change the world order.

Here’s the cover. Let me know what you think

Buy The Voynich Cypher at Amazon.

Share

Continue reading

Readers of my blog know that I began my experiment with KDP Select in mid-January. The main attraction for me was the ability to put a title free for a day or three, thereby enhancing visibility and presumably giving me a boost on the “most popular” and “also bought” lists following the free day(s).

So how has that worked?

Glad you asked, internal dialogue that always seems to know just what to inquire for maximum effect.

Sales of my books increased by a factor of four in January, from my most popular month ever – December. Given that I have been at this for a whopping nine months, that would kind of make sense. December, everybody on the planet got Kindles for Xmas, and needed content for them. Ergo, more books would sell.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

BREAKING NEWS: Fantastic guest blog at The Veil War on the writing of The Voynich Cypher.

MORE BREAKING NEWS: Interview, book review of The Delphi Chronicle, Book 1, and a short story. Must read! With author Kathleen Patel.

UPDATE: Monday, 3-12. Interview with Digital Ink Spot on Amazon promos, process & thoughts.

UPDATE: New interview just posted with Eden Baylee. It’s a fun one.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I also released a slew of books in December – Night of the Assassin, King of Swords, and The Delphi Chronicle trilogy. Night and Book 1 of Delphi were and are free, so I increased my available paid titles by two that month, bringing it to a total of seven possible paid titles to buy. I don’t count the first book of Zero Sum, because that was free as well, nor do I count the individual books in the trilogies, as nearly everyone who buys, buys the bundles.

If all things were equal, I would have expected an organic growth of 20-25% from the new titles, which is about what I saw from November to December. All very predictable.

In mid-January, I enrolled my first book in KDP Select, and ran a couple of days free. The Geronimo Breach saw 12K downloads in its two free days, and then sales took off like a rocket for 5 or 6 days, eventually dropping back to a sustainable rate that was above December’s run rate, but nothing like what the post-free week was like. That got me looking at other authors’ experiences, and sure enough, the post-free phenomenon was being discussed, although it was still largely too new to rate.

I then ran a few more titles free, for a day here and there, and lo and behold, saw the same effect. This resulted in a reproducible sales boost, and appeared to have pulled my other titles along with it. I finished January giddy, with four times December’s bucks in my pocket.

February, for the first two weeks, sales were down 30% from January. Other authors indicated that was a well-understood effect of readers digesting all the books they’d downloaded. Made sense, but still not a lot of fun to see. In the final two weeks, I ran Geronimo free for one day, and Zero Sum free for two, and Geronimo saw 10K in one day, and Zero Sum saw about 20K on two days of downloads, hitting number 5 for free downloads. Post free, sales took off like a scared rabbit again, and I finished February at the same sales level as January, which is to say back at four times December sales, but income was up 25%, at five times December’s sales, due to a higher ASP after the artificially low promotional pricing I’d tried on a few titles in Jan. I figured it would be down 20%, so that was a pleasant surprise.

March, Zero Sum has been continuing its run from the free days the end of February, performing well and holding in the 500 paid range now 8 days post promo, which is unexpected but nice. But here’s the amazing part about the KDP promotions: by March 10 I will have sold more or less as many books as I did all of Feb. Obviously, that portends good things. If sales stay on track the rest of the month, I can expect a double to tripling over the course of the March, or roughly eight to twelve times December sales.

That’s an eye-opening number. Extrapolating, if March comes in as it’s shaping up, from that point on with no sales growth at all (even though I’ll be adding a slew of new titles this year), I will sell well over 100K books in 2012. Needless to say, if that happens, I’ll be one of the very very very few indie authors making a significant living from my passion. That’s amazing for two reasons. First, up until Amazon created its revolution in self-publishing, it would have been impossible. Utterly, completely impossible. A pipe dream. Second, it’s astounding because I will be a failure by traditional publishing standards.

Failing has never felt so good.

If I have 12 paid titles out by the end of 2012, and I’m selling 100K books, I’m only moving 9K books per year, per title, mas o menos. That’s a disaster by traditional published standards. And yet obviously, by living in Mexico self-publishing standards, it’s a home run. The numbers assume that none of my books really hit in any way big. In fact, these numbers might. My new one, launching on March 17, The Voynich Cypher, could blow things wide open. It’s that kind of a book. Mainstream, accessible, my take on a Dan Brown/Raiders of the Lost Ark style adventure/thriller. If it gets traction, it could be a big book. Early readers are enthusiastic, so I’ve got high hopes for it, but even if it sort of of putters along flat, I’m still in the mix to hit my 2012 numbers. Again, this all assumes that none of my books really get discovered, or in any way hit the mainstream.

I attribute my success to date, such as it is, to two things. First, to writing a heartfelt blog about a beloved & perhaps misunderstood public figure and comparing him to my dad, and having it go viral. Okay, maybe not so much that. Seriously, it’s because of being fortunate enough to have delivered a reasonable product to those brave or stupid enough to try my offerings, and building slow recognition organically. And second, it’s because the KDP Select program has created a venue whereby indie authors can displace the big name brand authors, and get a small slice of awareness from an audience they previously would have had no chance of reaching. The first takes 15 hour days, 7 days a week, for 10 months. The second took KDP deciding to offer “free” as a perk for joining the Select program.

I owe Amazon deep and sincere gratitude, and hope they crush the bones of their competitors to jelly and dance in the still-warm blood of their adversaries as they rule the book world. At least, for another year or two, it would be nice. My game plan is to have twenty titles out by the end of 2013, all selling for between $2.99 and $6.99. If Amazon’s KDP program stays in place and their algorithms don’t change, I and a whole group of writers who had no real shot at making a decent living suddenly have become viable. Perhaps Indie will become the new slush pile – but one that pays well. Or perhaps there won’t be any more slush piles, and the phones will go unanswered in NY sometime soon.

On a related topic, my UK sales are now trending at 10% of my US sales, so the UK is having more of an effect than I would have expected. Given that I have done exactly zero marketing beyond twitter and a lackadaisical Facebook presence, that also portends good things. Although I will say that I have been participating in Melissa Foster’s World Literary Cafe, and the visibility from that group’s efforts have likely played a role in my sales. I recommend them highly, for those looking to participate in a good organization.

Loans have also increased, and as of today, for March 8, I have 450 borrows. As I said in a prior blog, on titles at my price point at least some of those are displacing sales at a considerably higher net rate, but the overall positive of being in the KDP program is outweighing that negative. Hard to bitch over the cost of doing business on that one.

That’s where we are as of today. Whether sales continue apace, or dirt dive, is unknowable from this point on, but I’ll keep everyone updated. It’s been a fascinating experiment so far. I’ll post an end of year summary in December, and maybe a mid-year one in July – really, the first full year of being in this game. Beyond that, thank you to my readers, and good luck to all the authors following this blog. It can be done. It’s just not easy. Nothing is.

UPDATE: As of March 10, midnight, I have sold 3015 books this month and had 540 borrows. A little slower than I’d hoped, but the last few days were laggards. Still, difficult to whine too much. I’ll save that for the end of the month when I’ve crashed and burned…

 

Share

Continue reading

15 Jan 2012, by

Free Lunch

I have been asked how my recent three day jaunt on Amazon went.

The one where I made my thriller The Geronimo Breach free for three days.

I think I’d accurately compare it to being sixteen, and handed the keys to dad’s Porsche while discovering that I have the house to myself for three days…and the liquor cabinet’s open. It’s that kind of “Wow” moment.

First, to the numbers. Over the three days. roughly 10,400 people downloaded the book. That’s a lot of people. How many will actually read it is probably a fraction of that – maybe 20%, maybe 30%. I’m using highly scientific proprietary algorithms to come up with those number, by the way, incorporating numerology and magnetism (available in my upcoming releases Attraction, Repulsion, Alignment and Of Course He Tricked You, Douchebrain).

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

MORE ACCOLADES: Fatal Exchange was the favorite book of 2011 for Kate Farrel at The Kindle Book Review.

INTERVIEW: I was interviewed about writing and craft by @WritingTips101. Worth a look, & please Stumbleupon it at the bottom using the little green button.

NEW INTERVIEW: I was interviewed by South African blogger Nadine Maritz, and the result can be seen here.

IMPORTANT! Night of the Assassin just went FREE on Barnes and Noble. Please help me out here. Go to the Amazon page for Night here, and scroll down below the rating, where it says “Tell Us About A Cheaper Price.” Then click that, and enter the link to B&N, which I post below, and enter 0.00 as their price. I would appreciate the help in having them price match it. Thanks so much. Here’s the B&N link.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/night-of-the-assassin-russell-blake/1108178602?ean=2940032947783&itm=6&usri=russell+blake

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Those are big numbers. And oddly, downloads increased roughly 20% per day over each prior day. Extended out over time, that’s an exponential curve that will have more people on earth with a copy of The Geronimo Breach within a few months than have spent days with Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest reading about shopping trips to Ikea and frozen pizza. Which is why I put a stop to it. Shut it down. Promo nomo. I didn’t want to tip the poles or cause a cosmic imbalance due to all the kindles filled with my work. Not for free, anyway.

Why would I give my book away for free – a book that’s garnered rave reviews, and has been described as unique in most of the 23 four and five star reviews? Obviously, because I hope to get something.

Readers.

My bet is that if, say, 2000 of those fine, discriminating folks actually read the book, most will become repeat customers of my other titles. That would translate into a nice sales bump. Additionally, it would increase my visibility as an author, which should translate into a long term net positive both in brand recognition, as well as sales. So it’s really a loss leader. Like a dope dealer. First time’s for free.

I fully expect some of the one star drive-by reviews to happen, as I’ve seen that as a regrettable by-product of free book distribution. Some might say miserable pr#cks with no lives who delight in trashing things for no good reason are drawn to free books, and that these lowlife f#ckwads, who are easily recognizable due to their never having reviewed a book before, are basically vandals who delight in tearing down the work of others, good or bad, for the thrill of any attention it might bring, and should be dragged behind a garbage truck through rusty nails and broken glass while splattered with battery acid and bleach in any kind of just world. I take a more charitable stance, and view them as mentally ill – the not too bright angry cousins who would be torturing animals if they weren’t busy prowling the net expressing their disturbances in a more benign way. I’m all about tolerance here, and when I say my critics can bite me, I mean it respectfully, of course. Let’s be clear about that.

I believe the vast majority of readers will vote with their wallets. If they think the work is redeeming, they’ll buy more of it. If not, they’ll shut the kindle off after a few minutes and move to the next one. That’s what I do. Life’s too short to read crappy books.

If my belief is correct, and if Geronimo is actually as good as everyone has said (and as of this writing, it has 21 five star and 2 four star reviews on Amazon), people will read it, hopefully like it, and then buy another of my titles.

I shall keep everyone informed of how that works out. I’d hope to see a 20%-30% increase in sales in January, and a sustained increase thereafter. We shall see.

To everyone who downloaded it, thank you, and enjoy. Let me know what you think. It’s one of my favorites – Al was a fun character to write, and it was a delight to do so. I hope you enjoy reading about his exploits as much as I enjoyed creating him.

If you like this blog, hit the green “Stumbleupon” button at the bottom and recommend it to others. Spread the word. Oh, and vote for me for a shorty award so you can watch me annoy legitimate talents with my inappropriate antics at the presentation ceremony. I understand drinking may be involved. Wink.

++++++++++++++

I’ve had numerous folks ask me who my cover artist is. E-mail me through this site and I’ll give you the skinny. Good, fast and cheap.

Share

Continue reading

It’s not often that you get to chat with a living legend. I was recently fortunate enough to interview NY  Times bestselling author John Lescroart, whose career spans decades of consistently turning out over twenty enormously popular, erudite, riveting fiction novels. He was kind enough to subject himself to my inane questions, all for your amusement, and at considerable personal expense – all right, perhaps an exaggeration, but what of it? The point is, this literary icon took the time away from a life of jetting to and fro in the company of celebrities and super-models to offer his thoughts and counsel so you could be enriched. So pull up a chair and read one of the most meaty and interesting interviews I’ve had the pleasure of doing in my Author Spotlight series. Pay attention. Maybe you can learn something…

+++++

NEW NEW INTERVIEW: If you only read one interview with me, ever. this is the one you should read.

NEW INTERVIEW: With yours truly on writing King of Swords, with Cheryl Bradshaw Books. Essential reading.

BIG NEWS: Absolutely must read book review by bestselling author Steven Konkoly for King of Swords.

ANOTHER NEW INTERVIEW: Guest blog/interview with Sibel Hoge.

AND YET ANOTHER NEW INTERVIEW: Busy week for interviews. This one on An Angel With Fur.

AND AN AWESOME NEW REVIEW: By JLandonCocks for Fatal Exchange, just released!

+++++

Russell Blake: Your legacy of work is one of the most impressive out there. Where do you get your ideas from, and what’s your process for moving them from idea stage to where you’re actually writing?

JL:  Right now I’m in the throes of “getting an idea” for my next (2013) book, and I must say that the challenge never stops.  Because really, what’s needed is not just an idea, but a great idea, a concept that can carry your characters through 400 pages of compelling action and development.  If there were a secret to getting that idea, I’d tell you what it was, but I’m afraid that for me, at least, ideas “come” as I’m writing scenes and pages.  And the one, big idea that I’m waiting for – at least for the very next book – is proving elusive at the moment.  I’m sure it’s out there, and I’m sure it will arrive before I reach utter despair, but it is a difficult time.  As to the process moving from the idea to the actual writing, that’s much easier.  Once I’ve got a general idea of what the book is about, I just sit down and start writing scenes and having fun.

RB: How many hours per week do you try to write? Do you have a disciplined schedule, or do you mostly write when the mood strikes?

JL:  I most definitely do not write when the mood strikes.  I go into work, after a physical workout, every weekday, and spend at least two and often as many as six hours putting down pages.  Inspiration often comes to visit during these spells of work, but I think if I waiting for any one given inspiration, I wouldn’t get much done.

RB: Do you do character outlines and structure the book in advance? What’s the mechanism you use? Any?

JL:  As is probably obvious from what I’ve already written here, it’s all very much by the seat of my pants.  I try to see interesting scenes that involve the reader and move the plot and characterization forward, hopefully with a surprise or a little gem of prose included in every scene.

RB: Have you ever had writer’s block? How did you get past it? Any tricks or suggestions?

JL:  My favorite definition of writer’s block is that it is a failure of nerve.  By any objective standard, I’m in a (very rare but very real) state of writer’s block right at this moment; it takes a consistent act of will not to give in to it, but to keep searching in the darkness for a little spark that will eventually light up the internal landscape and let the idea shine forth.  To fight this failure of nerve, I try to gear myself up into what I call “genius mode,” where I tell myself that everything I’m writing is brilliant, let my inner demons be damned!

RB: What’s your story. How did you get into writing, and what was your path to becoming a bestselling legend?

JL:  My story is an extremely long and complicated one, but here is the short version.  I did not know anything about publishing when I started out.  I did not even know how to submit a book.  I actually wrote my first published hardcover when I was 24, but didn’t even send it out to publishers until I was 36!  When I signed the contract for that book, I essentially hired myself out as an indentured servant to my publisher at the time.  The option clause in that contract specified that I would have the same contract, except for the advance, for my next book, and the one after that, and the one after that.  So my first five or six books got published with very low print runs, no advertising, no publisher’s push at all, and – no surprise – none of them did very well commercially.  Finally, though I had no money, I hired a lawyer to help me get out of that option clause.  It cost me $28,000 in attorney’s fees in a year when I made a total of $22,000.  But I got out of the clause.  The very next book sold for six figures, and since then they’ve all been bestsellers.  So the best advice I can give is to tell hopeful writers to be careful when they sign contracts.  Don’t sell out for less than you think you’re worth.  If you’re good enough, somebody will pay you what you’re worth, and treat you right in the bargain.

RB: I follow you on Facebook and Twitter, and you frequently write about structural issues, grammar and style. If you only had 60 seconds to impart to aspiring writers the most vital advice you’ve acquired as a writer, what would it be?

JL:  I would have three things I would say:  master the use and misuse of the passive voice, and avoid it at all costs.  Beyond that, learn what writers mean when they say “Show, don’t tell,” and do that.  Finally, finish something . . . anything . . . short story, novel, scene . . . get done with it and move on.  Only in the doing does learning happen.

RB: If there was only one book that readers could peruse of your work, which one would it be? What’s the landmark, defining example of John Lescroart? And why?

JL:  This is a tough question because they are all my babies.  And some of the early books – The 13th Juror, A Certain Justice, Guilt – really did mark personal breakthroughs in terms of what I was writing and how I went about it.  And even now, my latest two books, Damage and next year’s The Hunter, have marked real departures from my earlier “courtroom” books.  All that said, however, I’d have to say that the quintessential Lescroart book is The Hearing.  It’s got Hardy and Glitsky in all their agony and glory, and a truly great, complex plot.  If you like that one, you’ll know what I’m all about, and can go backward or forward in the series without losing a step.

RB: Whose work influenced your writing? What authors did you grow up on?

JL:  Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Lawrence Durrell, and Patrick O’Brien on the literary side, and Conan Doyle, Rex Stout, John D. MacDonald, and Agatha Christie on the mystery side.  Mark Twain was a giant early influence, but then again, so were the Hardy Boys and the Landmark Books of biographies.  I’ve been an avid reader, some would say an addicted reader, for my whole life, and most of what I read I tried to learn something from.

RB: Why did you become a writer? What made you burn to do so?

JL:  I somehow always knew that I wanted to be an author.  From an early age, I used to make up stories and put on plays that I wrote, so I guess I’ve always had that bug.  Beyond that, there wasn’t really anything else that I felt so passionately about – I worked every “day job” in the world until I started making  a living as a writer when I was 45, and none of them were very fulfilling or interesting.  Also, I generally hated working for bosses, and wanted to be my own boss very badly.  So I just kept at it until it worked.

RB: What gets you up in the morning and keeps you writing?

JL:  I do love the process, the challenge, the fact that I never get bored.  I keep trying to write the best novel that I can envision, to capture all the world that I possibly can on the page.  Having done so many different other kinds of work, I never lose sight of how lucky I am do be able to do what I do now.  Also, much more prosaically, it’s great to be paid to be a writer, to be on contract with a great company like Dutton, to be in this milieu with its talented, interesting people.  To be a part of it is a kind of magic, and I just consider myself supremely blessed that I’ve somehow, after a somewhat tortuous journey, arrived here.

RB: What’s your latest release, and what are you working on now?

JL:  My next release, The Hunter, comes out on January 3.  It is a book featuring Wyatt Hunt and, if I might pass along some really wonderful news, it’s just gotten a starred review in Publishers Weekly.  As to what I’m working on now, it’s that pesky outline referred to above.  Ask me next week, and I’ll probably sound a lot happier about it.

RB: There’s probably a universe of good questions I failed to ask. What parting words would you offer aspiring novelists, other than save your money from your day gig?

JL:  Finish.  Finish.  Finish.  Then rewrite until it sings.

Share

Continue reading

5 Dec 2011, by

King of Swords

BREAKING NEWS. Character interview with my creation, Al, from The Geronimo Breach is now live. As of Monday, Dec. 5. Funny stuff. Really.

Don’t miss the great new interviews with authors Lawrence Block and Steven Konkoly, the first two in my Author Spotlight series. Great words from great guys. Completely clown free.

+++++++++++++++++++++

Every now and then you do something that’s special. It’s different, and feels, I don’t know, just right, somehow.

That’s the only way I can describe my experience writing my new thriller, King of Swords. I believe it’s my best work to date, and represents a kind of turning point on my journey as an author. If every writer has “The” book, then I believe King of Swords is mine. It’s the synthesis of everything I’ve learned in terms of writing thriller fiction – gritty, breakneck pacing, non-stop action, unexpected character development of mulch-dimensional individuals who are complex and possess contradictory qualities and impulses, twists, turns, conspiracies within conspiracies, all set against a backdrop that’s non-traditional and richly evocative. It’s no holds-barred writing, and doesn’t pander. It presumes you’re smart, or you wouldn’t be reading it. Remember when books used to be written like that? Hmmm. But I digress.

It’s the story of a super assassin whose clients are the drug cartels of Mexico, and the discovery of a plot by a captain of the Federal Police – the Federales – to assassinate the Mexican and U.S. presidents at the G-20 financial summit. The elevator pitch of the idea I had when I sat down to write it as a lark, for NanoWriMo, was a single sentence that had been bouncing around in my noodle for a few days, as I finished up writing The Delphi Chronicle trilogy: “Day of the Jackal in Mexico.” From that smallest of seeds developed an incredibly complex and racing thriller that is unlike anything you’ve ever read. Or at least, unlike anything I’ve ever read, or written.

There are moments in the book where my editor sent back comments like “Crimmey” (he’s a Brit) or “Holy shit!” It’s that kind of work. It’s relentless, and shocking, and disturbing at a host of levels for a host of reasons, all of them deliberate. It captures the essence of the casual brutality of the drug cartels who are waging a guerrilla war against the Mexican government, and who are winning – not that hard considering that their budget is on the order of fifty times greater than the entire budget of Mexico’s armed forces.

I’m very excited by this book. So much so that I am three quarters through writing a prequel to it, titled Night of the Assassin, which explores the making of the monster who is the central villain in King of Swords. I had one author whose judgment I respect read the opening pages I posted on the Nano website tell me that he’s never seen anything like King. Neither have I. I have no idea where it came from, or where Assassin is coming from, but it’s an incredibly chilling, suspenseful and dark place.

If you’re a fan, from the first sentences you’re going to know why I’m so excited by this book. If you’ve never read anything I’ve written, this is the book that you should start with. If you only read one of my thrillers, this is the one you should read.

Night of the Assassin will be released in a week and a half, with any luck at all – my editing team is pulling Herculean stints to get both Night and Delphi done on schedule, which is no small feat. The covers for both books are at the bottom of this blog. They are a departure from my current approach for Zero Sum, The Geronimo Breach and Fatal Exchange, but that’s deliberate. These two books, as well as the Dec. 24 release of The Delphi Chronicle trilogy, represent a new direction for my thriller fiction. I suspect we will see a lot more of Captain Cruz and the Assassin known only as, “El Rey” – the King of Swords, the oldest of the tarot card kings. It feels like there are a lot more books these two will carry, and I’ve only scratched the surface of them in the first two. Hope you like the covers, and if you get a chance, pick up a copy of King of Swords. First 10 reviewers will get a complimentary set of The Delphi Chronicle trilogy when it releases. Just e-mail me your review via the contacts page.

A sample of the first few chapters can be found here, for those that want to see what the fuss is about.

And if after reading it, you’re as excited as I am, please, tell a friend. Or two. That’s how it works. That, and reviews, which I’ll also ask you in a small and pleading voice to leave.

There. That about covers my installment of shameless self-promotion, I think. Let me know what you think of the book.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

I’ve been getting a lot of inquiries about who does my book covers. Let me just say that he’s fast, cheap and good. If you’d like more info, e-mail me at [email protected] and I’ll put you in touch.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

Join Russell Blake and 9 of his author friends at WoMen’s Literary Cafe’s Mystery Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their ebooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE!”

Share

Continue reading

NEWSFLASH: Zero Sum, Book 1, Kotov Syndrome, my Wall Street thriller serial trilogy, has been reviewed by acclaimed author Steven Konkoly, whose The Jakarta Pandemic and Black Flagged are climbing the charts. The review is a wonderful deconstruction of the trilogy, and is recommended reading for one and all.

MAJOR BREAKING NEWS: Justin Bogdanovitch published a poignant and touching review of An Angel With Fur for prominent online lifestyle magazine InClassicStyle.com .

INTERVIEWS: Couple of newish interviews with yours truly you might have missed. You can see them here, and here.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I’ve been doing a fair number of interviews lately, and it occurred to me that it might be interesting for my readers if I spotlighted some of the authors I’ve run across who are standouts – climbing the charts, or noteworthy due to the quality of their work, or both.

I figured that would be more interesting than reading my scribbling about me, me, me, and so a few times a month I’ll be featuring what I think of as authors of note. Authors who have bucked the trend, beaten the odds, and are doing better than their peers.

The questions will be about their work, their process, and their views. Sometimes I’ll ask a marketing question or two, but that’s not the point of these fireside chats. It’s more to get inside their heads and find out what makes them tick.

My first two will be with bestselling author David Lender, whose latest opus, Vaccine Nation, is racing up the charts, and Steven Konkoly, whose The Jakarta Pandemic and Black Flagged are top selling thrillers on Amazon. I’ve read both their work, and enjoy it, so I’ll ask them questions that interest me, and hopefully you’ll be interested as well. As a thriller writer myself, I like hearing from fellow authors who are enjoying some success, and am always curious as to how they do whatever it is they’re doing.

After these two, I’ll probably slow the pace to one interview a month, with literary luminaries like Lawrence Block – guys who have been in the trenches, written a lot of books, and sold a bunch. In the end how often I do them will depend on the response to these. I’ll also ask the authors to check in on the comments a few times a week to answer questions from readers as they occur.

Hopefully this will become a series that affords us all a glimpse into the minds and processes of noteworthy authors who are making names for themselves. Everyone’s journey is different, but this will allow us to press our noses up to the glass and peer in at them, if only for a few brief moments. Stay tuned! First one coming within a few days.

On my writing front, I just finished polishing The Delphi Chronicle books, and my editor is scrambling to get King of Swords whipped into shape. Goal is to release King within a week or so, and Delphi by Xmas. I’ll be sitting down and writing a prequel to King over the next few weeks, while the character of the assassin is still fresh in my mind, and you can expect that out by year’s end. And I’ll be participating in a promotion for Andy Holloman, the art and details of which can be found below. So a busy December, by any measure. No rest for the wicked.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

Join Russell Blake and 9 of his author friends at WoMen’s Literary Cafe’s Mystery Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their ebooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE!”

Share

Continue reading

23 Nov 2011, by

Finito

NEWSFLASH: Zero Sum, Book 1, Kotov Syndrome, my Wall Street thriller serial trilogy, has been reviewed by acclaimed author Steven Konkoly, whose The Jakarta Pandemic just got its 100th Amazon review, and who just released Black Flagged. The review is a wonderful deconstruction of the trilogy, and is recommended reading for one and all.

MAJOR BREAKING NEWS: Justin Bogdanovitch just published a poignant and touching review of An Angel With Fur for prominent online lifestyle magazine InClassicStyle.com . It’s really a must-read review.

INTERVIEWS: Couple of newish interviews you might have missed. You can see them here, and here.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

After a lot of 15 hour days, I finished the first draft of “King of Swords” – my newest thriller, about a super assassin targeting world leaders at the G-20 Conference in Los Cabos, Mexico.

It’s a shocking, sometimes violent, often disturbing rush of a book. To say that it races is like saying a G-6 is a private plane. I’m now going back to polish & rewrite, which will take me four days, and then I’ll be submitting it as completed to NanoWriMo.

Every now and then you write one where you feel, as you write it, like this could be “The Book.” I’ve felt that way a few times, especially when I did The Geronimo Breach (still probably my favorite, depending upon which day you ask me) but this time I really feel like it’s my best work to date. Which is odd given the schedule I had to keep to get it done in 12 days – it’s no exaggeration to say I worked from 8 a.m. to midnight the entire period. So that’s around 160 hours with breaks, writing time. For those following along at home, the book totals a little over 87K words, and may gain or lose weight during rewrite and edit – although I’m pretty brutal about cutting during rewrite. I typically switch into a completely different mode, and go for efficiency over word creation.

For those who think it can’t be done in eleven or twelve days, consider that my speed actually comes to around 550 words per hour. That’s paltry. It’s just all about sitting down and doing the work, not about being a virtuoso speed-writing demon.

Books are made or broken in rewrite. I don’t think this one’s going to be the case. If you read the sample chapters I wrote on the 11th, you’ll see that it’s fairly well along as a first draft.

I’m very excited by this story. I hope that’s still my impression once I get done killing my babies in rewrite and edit. But I can say I haven’t read anything like it. A Mexican Federal Police protag that’s hugely developed as a character, set against the backdrop of the bloody 10-year de facto civil war with the drug cartels in Mexico, an assassin that’s by far the most interesting villain I’ve ever created, plots in plots in plots, a back story or three that will make you cringe in places…everything I’ve ever liked about the genre, but on steroids.

I want to take my time on rewrite so won’t be submitting it till next Wed, the 30. And I’ll work up a cover in the meantime, and get the editor cranked up to move this through with prejudice, and then will launch back into rewrite on The Delphi Chronicle, which is almost double this novel’s length and is a mover & shaker for entirely different reasons. Target for that is a Dec. 22 release. We’ll see. Target for King of Swords is Dec. 10.

And then I’m taking a one or two week break, before moving back into The Messiah Cipher, which will take till end of January to complete with all the holiday merriment.

Unless I decide to write one of the prequels to King of Swords first. I’m thinking Night of the Assassin as a title, covering the exploits of the killer before this book. God I hope this doesn’t keep me up at night and force its way into the world the way this last one did. I don’t want December to be like November…

++++++++++++++++++++++++

Join Russell Blake and 9 of his author friends at WoMen’s Literary Cafe’s Mystery Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their ebooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE!”

Share

Continue reading

18 Nov 2011, by

Nano Update

NEWSFLASH: Zero Sum, Book 1, Kotov Syndrome, my Wall Street thriller serial trilogy, has been reviewed by acclaimed author Steven Konkoly, whose The Jakarta Pandemic just got its 100th Amazon review, and who just released Black Flagged. The review is a wonderful deconstruction of the trilogy, and is recommended reading for one and all.

MAJOR BREAKING NEWS: Justin Bogdanovitch just published a poignant and touching review of An Angel With Fur for prominent online lifestyle magazine InClassicStyle.com . It’s really a must-read review. 

==========================

My author went to Nano and all I got was this dumb book.”

An update on my new magnum opus, King of Swords.

For those just tuning in, last Friday, Nov. 11, at around 2 p.m. I got it into my noggin that it would be a swell idea to come off of having just finished writing about 150K words of The Delphi Chronicle and launch into a book for the National Novel Writing Month challenge – to write at least a 50K novel during the month of November.

Being as in Mexico it’s not unheard of to start happy hour around noon on Fridays (or most days, for that matter) it seemed like a perfect idea. Hell, after grinding out 150K of intricate international conspiracy, 50K would seem like a massage with a happy ending, not that I know what that means (wink wink). My point is that cocktails were involved, and so, without taking into consideration what it would do to my posture or my Iron Man triathlon training regime, I launched into it.

Today is one week later, and I’m at 45K words of what is shaping up nicely – it’s a hell of a story so far, as you can tell from the first few chapters (link below). One problem is that it is going to take more than 50K words to tell it, no matter how concisely I write it. There’s just way too much going on, with a lot of story getting packed into a slim wrapper. The characters are at that point where they’ve come alive, and taken on a life of their own. Who knew that the protag had a dark sense of humor? Who knew that the assassin would be that interesting and complex? Who knew that there would be conspiracies within the conspiracies, and that nothing would be as it seemed?

For those following along at home, I could finish this today at 50K, clock it in, and have won my “personal best” bet with myself for the fastest I’ve ever written a fiction novel. But the story wants to keep rolling, so I’m going to let it run and see what happens. My hunch is this is a 75K-85K effort, if I’m going to include all the nuance, which seems worthwhile. So I’ll let it have its way, and hopefully by next Thursday or so I’ll be done, and can polish it for three or four days, and clock it.

You can track my daily progress online here & read the opening few chapters I wrote Friday. And again, please, no wagering. This should serve as a cautionary tale for those considering doing anything after tequila blinds you to reality. Don’t do it, kids.

It’s also pushed editing and polishing my latest work in progress, The Delphi Chronicle, for two weeks, so this will delay that release to around third week of December, with King of Swords releasing around second week of December, assuming it isn’t drivel. I also think I’m going to end the promotion of Zero Sum where the first book’s for free around the end of the year, or end of Jan. at the latest.

That’s the news from my end. I’m keeping my head down and pulling on the oars as hard as I can, so hopefully by end of next week I’ll have birthed me a book…

++++++++++++++++++++++

Join Russell Blake and 9 of his author friends at WoMen’s Literary Cafe’s Mystery Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their ebooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE!”

Share

Continue reading

13 Nov 2011, by

Nano Mo?

NEW INTERVIEW: With Becky at MysteryWritersUnite. On craft & my books.

GOOD INTERVIEW: New interview now live with @ElaineAsh1 interviewing me. It’ a good one.

NEWSFLASH: Zero Sum, Book 1, Kotov Syndrome, my Wall Street thriller serial trilogy, has just been reviewed by acclaimed author Steven Konkoly, whose The Jakarta Pandemic just got its 100th Amazon review, and who just released Black Flagged. The review is a wonderful deconstruction of the trilogy, and is recommended reading for one and all.

MAJOR BREAKING NEWS: Justin Bogdanovitch just published a poignant and touching review of An Angel With Fur for prominent online lifestyle magazine InClassicStyle.com . It’s really a must-read review. And the Pet Wall also gets spotlight coverage at Justin Bogdanovitch’s blog.

==========================

I have been told I’m out of my mind.

There is some merit to that position.

I decided to give the National Novel Writing Month challenge a whirl. The objective is to write a 50K novel in the month of November.

The problem is that I was finishing up my latest magnum opus, so I couldn’t start on a new book until yesterday. So I did some cursory plotting, and started writing yesterday afternoon. That would be the 11th.

As of today, I’m at 10K words, and I hope to get to 15K by tomorrow night. That’s about as far as I can imagine getting, as I haven’t plotted what happens next yet, so there’s a conceptual hurdle there. But not to worry. I’m fairly sure I know the broad strokes of how it ends. I just need to flesh out all that stuff between Chapter 1 and the ending. Details, details. Stuff happens. People die. There are plot twists, and other stuff happens we didn’t see coming. Then the pace builds, and pretty soon we’re at the end. Maybe our protag’s character arcs, and he learns something about himself, or the world. Maybe he learns to trust, or that hate is a cancer, or finds the power of love.

As with all my thrillers, you can bet there’s a conspiracy within a conspiracy, and a breakneck pace. I just don’t know what the conspiracy is quite yet that’s in the conspiracy. Nor do I know what the twists are that will surprise and delight us at the end. Or the middle. Or anything after the beginning.

Having said that, the world is filled with bad people doing bad things, so there’s no shortage of real conspiracies I can draw upon for ideas.

The big hurdle is that I want to have 75-90K words done, as opposed to the 50K the challenge requires by, er, November 25. Of 2011. While I’m polishing my latest 150K of stories. And editing that one, which will require some heavy lifting. And preparing for a big book launch event I’ve signed up for in honor of @AndyHolloman.

But what is life without a challenge or three? Who knows, maybe this will turn out well enough to warrant some serious editing time, and release, say, around December 15?

What the heck. I actually almost wish I had one of those magic 8 balls where I could just shake it every chapter and it would go, “The protag meets a woman, who seems benign but is really deadly,” or whatever. It would be way easier than plotting all that stuff between once upon a time, and the end. Maybe I’ll just follow the age old advice, if you don’t know what happens next, have a guy enter with a gun.

If you want to check out the first installment, the opening of the book, which I’ve tentatively titled “King of Swords,” you can read the intro here. The title was suggested by my editor, who completely rocks and who I shall now blame for everything if the book bombs or sucks in any way.

That was yesterday afternoon and evening’s project. Oh, and MS Word conveniently lost the quick outline I did, where I’d figured out the first half of the book, so I’m kinda winging that. Nice, huh? Good old Word.

So pull up a chair and make some popcorn, and you you can watch a thriller novelist try to create something from scratch over a period of 10 or so days, allowing for a meeting or lunch every now and then.

Did I mention that some believe me to be, er, a little nuts? It’s why I drink. OK, one of the reasons. Ya got me. Now back to the ink mines…

++++++++++++++++++++++

Join Russell Blake and 9 of his author friends at WoMen’s Literary Cafe’s Mystery Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their ebooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE!”

Share

Continue reading

1 Nov 2011, by

Thoughts

BREAKING NEWS: Acclaimed author Steven Konkoly, whose new thriller Black Flagged just hit stores and whose Jakarta Pandemic just got its 100th review on Amazon, just published an in-depth review of the Zero Sum trilogy that’s the best analysis of the books I’ve seen. A must read. And please, distribute it and tweet it, as it’s honest, accurate and engaging.

UPDATE: An Angel With Fur and the Pet Wall get spotlight coverage at Justin Bogdanovitch’s blog. Great pooch photos too. And the book is currently back in the #2 position in Animal Essays on Amazon UK!

**********************************************

It’s been an interesting few days.

My Wall Street thriller Zero Sum, Book 1, Kotov Syndrome, has been free on Amazon for a little over a week, and after a truly stunning first week downloads have slowed, as I’d been warned they would. Conversely, sales of the bundled Book 2 and Book 3 have picked up, and it’s bounced around between #1500 and #3000 on Amazon Kindle books for that same period, so that’s good. The free Book 1 bounces between #10 and #5 on Action Adventure in free downloads, so it’s still seeing decent traffic. The question is of course, how many readers who download free books ultimately will be willing to pay for content – I can see a sort of sub-culture that believes that writers should do so for free and that books aren’t worth buying – although of course those in that culture wouldn’t dream of doing a ton of work for free themselves. It’s an interesting question, and I suppose we’ll see the answer soon enough.

I had a hitch in the gitty-up over the size of the excerpts in Book 1, so trimmed them to just a couple. This is a learning experience, as once they loaded in David Lender’s excerpts and mine, it bloated the file so over 40% of the download was excerpts, which I was unaware of until alerted (my tech guy does the excerpts and formatting – I just write the books and wash the bottles). That’s fixed now by cutting back on the excerpts, so it’s a brave new world. Also, since making the book available free, I’ve gotten a few one star reviews – a first out of 100 or so reviews for my work, and all on the free book. I guess John Locke’s observation that people will either love or hate your work is true, and you have to expect some haters to get mixed in with the lovers, especially as the numbers climb. It’s all par for the course, and the road’s been walked before.

As an aside, comedian Louis CK has a wonderful bit about how some folks feel a sense of entitlement, no matter how good things are, and will always be disappointed. He tells the tale of a flight where free in-flight internet was being tested, and after half an hour it stopped working, and the guy next to him began fuming, saying, “Man, this is bullshit!” The bit is funny because the guy is annoyed and feels entitled to something he didn’t even know existed until a few minutes prior. That seems to be human nature for some. Point is you can’t please everyone. Louis CK is amazingly funny, for those who haven’t seen his work, and you should look for him on YouTube for a laugh.

I’m currently chugging away at my next WIP, which will be The Delphi Chronicle. I hope to have the whole thing finished up in a week or so, at which point it will be polish time, and then off for editing and a cover. This one is scaring even me a bit, as the underlying conspiracy is frighteningly plausible and is based on an amazing piece of investigative journalism I stumbled across while researching book titles.

After that, I’ve got the next book featuring Dr. Steven Archer/Cross from Zero Sum, and then three other book ideas for next year, all of which I’m pretty excited about as they’re novel premises.

The Pet Wall is growing slowly, and An Angel With Fur continues to receive rave reviews, all of which comment on how touching the book is. That feels good for me, as I’m so close to the story sometimes I lose perspective on whether it really is moving for someone who wasn’t there.

So I will be relatively quiet over the next week or two as I finish my current WIP, and then will come up for air and chew the fat more. Thanks again to all who have retweeted my tweets about Zero Sum Book 1 being free on Amazon, and who have been supportive as I experiment with different marketing approaches. It seems there is no one magic bullet, but there’s at least a light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully it’s not a train coming at me.

Until next time…

 

Share

Continue reading

Copyright © Russell Blake 2010-2013 All Rights Reserved
Powered by WordPress

Join Russell Blake's Mailing List

  • Get Latest Releases
  • No Spam
  • Exclusive Offers

The best way to get the latest updates from Russell Blake