Today, October 5, 2012, marks the most important day in literary history.
OK, perhaps that’s a little overblown. Maybe not so much the most important day. But an important one, nonetheless.
Why, you ask yourself, wondering whether I slipped into the tequila even earlier than usual?
Because today is the official launch day of JET and JET II – Betrayal. The first two installments in my new series, which is two scoops of absolute kick-ass the likes of which make a Tarentino film seem as fast-moving as The English Patient.
JET is the story of a twenty-eight year old ex-Mossad operative who faked her own death to get out of the game, but whose past has caught up with her in a big, ugly way. It’s honestly the most non-stop action-and-thrills-filled books I’ve ever penned, or for that matter, read. And that’s not hyperbole. I’ll eat my bandanna if you don’t think so.
I was after an over-the-top heroine the likes of what would happen if Jack Bauer and James Bond had a love child. Think Lizbeth Salander with a double scoop of Kate Blankenship in Underworld. I wanted ass-kicking on top of ass-kicking. In other words, an unapologetic escapist romp that set a new, higher bar for what action/adventure can be.
The elevator pitch? Kill Bill meets Bourne.
That about sums it up.
BREAKING NEWS: A brilliant interview and synopsis of JET by Gail Trish Gentry – an absolute must read!
NEWS: I was featured in an interview at World Literary Cafe, with Melissa Foster! A good one.
NEWS: New guest blog with Sheila Deeth on writing female protags with a sizzling difference! Worth a look.
But one important caveat. The writing isn’t what you might expect from my description – puerile, simple-minded, prosaic action. Something odd happened as I was writing it. I sort of hit the groove, and what ensued was closer to literary fiction as far as the use of language goes than your typical shoot-em-up romp. So if there’s a genre that’s roller-coaster, breakneck-paced action crossed with literary fiction, this might be it. All I can tell you is that the result is something unique and for me, at least, utterly new and different.
The books are written in a cinematic fashion. Deliberately so. I conceptualized them as footage playing in my noggin. I saw each chapter in my mind as a movie. So that’s what I wrote. I described the saga screening in my head, and it was all I could do to keep up with it as it moved relentlessly forward. Hopefully you’ll like that.
Now let’s talk pricing. As readers of my blog know, I’m not content to just put it out there and sell books. I’m trying a new pricing strategy, where for a week or so I’m doing the first book at literally a give-away price. Because I want readers, not money (OK, I want money too, but there’s a method to my madness). I believe that if I can get tens of thousands of readers to try JET, they will want to buy JET II and III (I’m hard at work on JET III as we speak). And then they’ll want to move to my other work. So the introductory price of JET? $1.99. All my other new work is priced at $5, but JET is going to be two bucks, and JET II a lousy $3.97. For a limited time only.
So do me a huge favor. Get JET. It won’t cost you hardly anything. Read the first few pages. Then get copies and gift them to everyone you know. Spread the word.
Don’t make me beg. I get all whiny and clingy when I beg. And nobody wants to see that.
For good reason. Help me spare you the embarrassment. We’ll all be better for it. Trust me.
I haven’t lied to you yet.
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
Thanks to one and all for your support in alerting Amazon to The Delphi Chronicle, Book 1, The Manuscript being free at Barnes and Noble. They just made it free on Amazon now. So the great experiment continues.
The Delphi Chronicle isn’t for everyone. I’ll warn you up front that it is disturbing in many ways, not the least of which is because the underlying conspiracy is so damned, well, plausible. It’s an ugly, dirty, gritty story of really horrible atrocities that actually took place, and offers explanations for a host of seemingly unconnected events that some will find jarring. I wrote it that way deliberately.
There are a few books that document the story that I used as the basis of the conspiracy – non-fiction tomes that came out in the early 1990s and were roundly ignored by the mainstream press. Just as the mainstream press today ignores the $16 trillion handed out to for-profit and foreign banks by the Fed.
My point is that the same mainstream press that credulously touted Nukes in Iraq and a terrorist under every mattress seems to ignore a lot of big stories when they’re uncomfortable for the interests of the power elite. But it’s not just the U.S. press – all the mainstream media does it in virtually every country (of course, most of the press is now owned by the same group of uber-powerful owners, but hey…). But when they did it in Russia or still do it in China, it’s because they’re evil and repressive minions of the devil. When they do it in the U.S., it’s, well, because we’re patriotic or right-thinking or support our troops/the war on drugs/crime/anyone different appearing or thinking/pick your favorite boogeyman.
Everyone that reads my fiction knows I favor quirky, imperfect heroes battling monumental odds. And the odds don’t get any more insurmountable than the antagonists in Delphi.
Lest anyone jump all over me for being politically polarized, or anti-American (whatever that means) let me just say that the essence of a good conspiracy is that it is highly plausible, scary, and realistic. The Delphi Chronicle‘s conspiracy is that, in spades. It posits a world where nothing is sacred, nor safe, and some will find that way too close to home for comfort. I’d say look in the mirror before getting pissy with me. Take a hard look at recent events, and ask yourself if the reason you don’t like the underlying conspiracy is because I’m a bad man, or because it sounds way too plausible for your comfort zone.
Get it while it’s free. It is the first book in a trilogy – a serial trilogy, meaning that the story is spread over three installments. I have bundled books 2 and 3 at a special price so you don’t have to pay through the nose for the two books separately. I hope you enjoy my little story, and please, no black helicopters need circle. Because we all know it is fiction. As in a harmless invention. I even say so in the beginning. Any resemblance to people living or dead is purely coincidental. So get over it already. And as always, to my critics, you can suck it. Respectfully, of course. If you don’t like my books, go write your own, titled “Why Russell Should Die Horribly Of Ebola.” Stop whining about mine. It just encourages me.
For all the rest of you, let me know what you think. I hope you like it.
I’m hard at work editing my next one, The Voynich Cypher – a sort of Cussler meets Dan Brown adventure/conspiracy novel that’s a departure for me; as well as about 35% through the sequel to King of Swords – Revenge of the Assassin. So March and April will see a couple more from me. In the meantime, check out Delphi. At free, it’s pretty easy. Oh, and pick up the prequel to King of Swords, which is also free for a limited time – Night of the Assassin.
And thanks for the continued support. You rock. You know who you are, and you know I know you do. Wink.
Now go get some free swag, already.
Night of the Assassin just went free on Amazon.
Thank you to everyone for your support in getting Night of the Assassin free. This represents the next phase in my marketing plan – to give away the prequel to King of Swords, in an effort to broaden my readership and gain exposure.
Night is one of my favorite books, for a host of reasons, not the least of which that it is the prequel to what is arguably my best work, and absolutely one of my all time favorites. I don’t know why these two books turned out the way they did, but for whatever reason, I’m thankful.
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.
BIG NEWS: International bestselling pet bio An Angel With Fur is free on Amazon for a few days. If you want a whole other side of me, pick that up. Guaranteed it will move you.
So why give away what is one of my favorite books? Isn’t my craft something worth being paid for?
Absolutely. My conviction is that once readers get their hands on Night, they’ll know two things. First, that it is a different kind of read, and one that’s a good representation of my unique writing style. And second, that they’ll want to read King of Swords next. I’m so convinced I’m willing to skip the part where I get paid for Night, at least for a limited time, so that readers can see what I’m talking about – so I can back my mouth without risk to them. I would say that they’ll know where they fall in their opinion of the book within the first 10 pages. That fast.
People are either going to love Night, or hate it. That simple. Doubt that there will be many “I don’t know, it was okay” reviews. It’s a polarizing book, that chronicles the making of a monster – the super assassin El Rey, from King of Swords.
Pick up a copy, and see if I’m full of it or not. And enjoy, with my compliments, for as long as it lasts. You can get Night of the Assassin here. And if you like it, or any of my books, please take the time to leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads.
If you like this blog, hit the Stumbleupon button down at the bottom (the little green guy) and share it. Gracias.
And for those who keep asking who my cover artist is, shoot me an e-mail at Books@RussellBlake.com and I’ll get you the contact info. Good, fast and cheap.
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. It’s really a must-read review. And the Pet Wall also gets 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!
I have had a number of comments from author buddies that question the wisdom of offering Book 1 of Zero Sum, Kotov Syndrome, for free.
The sentiments range anywhere from the idea that it cheapens the perceived value of the work, to that I deserve compensation for my efforts, to that I will attract a type of reader who expects something for nothing, and thus won’t have any legacy value.
So I started to think through the question, and I can see both sides of it.
On the one hand, you have the largest single hurdle as a new author, which is generating name recognition and building a base of readers who will ultimately appreciate, like, and buy your work. It would seem to me that offering some of that work for free isn’t a bad way to crack the nut of getting decent exposure. With Zero Sum, Book 1, I decided to offer the first book in my serial trilogy for free, figuring that would give readers a chance to see whether they like my work or not. If so, super, perhaps they’ll convert into fans and purchase other work. If not, I haven’t really lost anything, as they likely wouldn’t have bought anything at any price.
But it does raise an interesting question; namely, is it a good idea to give your work away to generate buzz and get exposure?
The marketing guy in me says, hell yes. Every business has a marketing budget, and when breaking into new markets, you have to spend money to make money. So the value of the work you give away is part of your sunk cost into marketing. It’s like offering a loss leader, in the hopes that enough qualified buyers will become familiar with your work to convert into legacy customers over time. It’s why manufacturers do free tastings at Costco, or drug dealers give you the first time for free.
The author in me says, if I’m going to invest countless hours into creating a compelling work, and then further invest my money into hiring qualified editing and developing a professional cover, then I should get paid for going that distance. There are plenty of poorly written, badly or unedited works with horrendous or free covers, and I’ve taken the expensive steps to elevate my product above that bunch. Thus, the product is worth something, and then the battle becomes what is the product worth? That’s a different question. The point is, the artisan in me would like to be compensated for delivering value.
But the marketing guy says, screw it, give it away!
So what do you think? Where do you stand on the subject? What’s your take? Is giving away a part of a trilogy a viable marketing strategy, or cheapening the work? Or should you just give an entire 150K word novel away free? By giving product away for free, am I likely to attract perennially dissatisfied cheapskates who expect everything for free, and who troll the kindle store and the web for freebies? I can certainly appreciate that there’s a subset of folks that expect everything for nothing, just as there’s a subset who sue when coffee is served hot. I naively believe in human nature, and believe that most people will not have a problem buying work once they believe it has the quality they’re looking for. Yes, there will always be those looking to take advantage, or who feel entitled to everything for free because they’ve gotten free stuff before, but in the end, I think most adults, and certainly most erudite adults sufficiently literate to read a lot, are basically fair, and will have no problem exchanging value for value. There will always be predators and malcontents, but I tend to believe most aren’t.
But where do you stand? What do you think? What are you willing to do to get exposure, and what aren’t you?