Wednesday, July 1, 2015

You Too Can Be James Patterson: At Least You Can if You’ve Got $90.

This is not me. This is James Patterson.

Allen Appel: Thriller Guy hates Facebook. He’s just not a Facebook kind of guy. That’s why he’s turned the blog over to me today. Or at least one of the reasons. It pains me to say this, but TG is becoming more and more unreliable when it comes to fulfilling his blogging duties. Yes, he’s still just as full of contrary opinions, prejudices and repressed -- and not so-repressed, anger – that he’s always evidenced in these pages, and he’s still likely to burst into fits of rage and rant on and on over seeming trivialities, but I’ve heard him grumbling lately that “Life is too short.” Which seems to be his way of saying he’d rather be out practicing his shooting, going walkabout, sitting by the water drinking rum and having lunch with his writer pals than toiling over a keyboard. So we’re going to give him a break while we embark on a new project. But don’t think he’s retired, or even on vacation. After all, it’s his blog.

TG: And don’t you forget it, Appel. I’m watching you. I’ll be back.

Appel: OK, OK, TG, just trust me. I can handle this.

Facebook has recently been bombarding me with ads from my new best friend James Patterson (megaselling author of hundreds of novels selling zillions of copies) which promise that James can teach me how to write a bestselling novel. Fair enough. While I have published ten novels and many non-fiction books, it is true that none has been a best seller. All I have to do, these ads say, is fork over $90 and I can get started on a Masterclass that will reveal the tricks and secrets of the bestseller trade. This prompts a number of questions…

Q. Do they think I’m so deluded I believe that?

Q. Do I actually think that James Patterson cares about anything more than getting possession of my $90?

Q. Would this Masterclass have any value at all?

Q. Why have I not been charging $90 for the same advice I’ve been dishing out here for free?

So in the same altruistic spirit that fuels this whacky blog, I sent in my $90 and enrolled in James Patterson’s novel writing class. I have a writing partner, Joel, who has agreed to undertake this adventure with me, to follow James’ lessons as we see if the class is a valuable asset, or just a Patterson money-making scheme. Joel is a fellow writer and an expert on security issues who brings a deep knowledge of the technology of the spy business. Plus he knows a hell of a lot about weapons and the business of mayhem, both real and on the page. We have an idea for an espionage/adventure novel that we think is intriguing. Now all we have to do is have James Patterson teach us His Way to Bestsellerdom.

If TG were writing this, he’d miss no opportunity to make fun of Patterson. While I can’t say I won’t dabble a bit in that myself, I’m going to try and follow his instruction as if I were a first-timer who is a believer, and at the same time add my own advice gleaned from a harrowing 30+ years in the grueling novel writing business. And that’s my pledge to you, Jerry. (Seinfeld reference.)

In other business, as many of you know, my new novel, number six in the Pastmaster
Click here to order copy
series, The Test of Time is up in hard copy and as a Kindle on Amazon. This was a Kickstarter book, funded by the generous donations from terrific readers and friends. If any of you who donated have not received your signed copy of the book from me please let me know so I can send it to you!

So stay tuned, Thriller Guy readers, as we set off in our leaky boat to follow our captain, James Patterson, on our exciting journey to stardom.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Another Incredibly Exciting Announcement

Before Thriller Guy gets to the announcement, he would like to serve up another factoid in his series
of “Real Words and Phrases Used By Real Special Ops Guys.” This is a public service TG provides so you thriller writers can use snappy terminology that gives your novels that oh so important air of authenticity.

Everyone knows that when shooting a bad guy the “double tap” (pulling the trigger twice in rapid succession without changing your aiming point) is the de rigueur technique used by all the best Special Forces operators. The shots can be delivered to center mass or the head. Once the perp is down, it’s always wise to make sure he is permanently out of the game (how many scenes have we read where a supposedly dead guy comes back to life and gets off another couple of shots.) To make sure there’s no danger from a reanimated bad guy, a point-blank bullet to the forehead is the way to go; this shot is called “moonroofing.” Tuck that one in your lexicon and use it wisely. Aren’t you glad TG is here, always looking out for your best interests?

OK, here’s A. Appel with his Second Incredibly Exciting Announcement.

Thank you, TG. In my First Incredibly Exciting Announcement I informed the world that my new novel The Test of Time, was available for purchase in hard copy fromAmazon. I have now put the book up as a Kindle. You can buy a copy here.

This new book is a good entry point to the series, in that it’s a little different from the first five, though not different enough to put off any of the series long-time readers. So if you’re interested in time travel, historical novels or just a good read, give it a try. If you like it you’ve got five more books telling the story as it has developed over the years.

If you do read it, it’s always nice to put a review up on Amazon, unless you didn’t like it, in which case just keep your opinion to yourself, please.

Hopefully, there won’t be any more Incredibly Exciting Announcements because Thriller Guy has made it clear that he has grown very tired of that wordplay joke.

Thanks again to all the folks who supported the book and continue to support the series.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

An Incredibly Exciting Announcement: George R. R. Martin to Give Away Ten Copies of New Book!

Thriller Guy: I’d like to announce that George R.R. Martin has finished the latest book in the Game of Thrones series, and he has promised ten free copies to the readers of this blog!

Allen Appel: Wait a minute. You can’t say that.

TG: Why not? You said you wanted me to make an incredibly exciting announcement.

AA: But it’s not true.

TG: So? Call the Internet police.

AA: (silence)

TG: Have them put me in Internet jail.

AA: (Silence. Then quietly.) I have an announcement to make. I have finished writing the sixth book in my Pastmaster series, The Test of Time, and it is now available on Amazon. Amazon, with their incredibly annoying autocorrect, has labeled the book as part of the "Postmaster" series.

TG: Wow. That was really exciting. This is the reason you’re not as famous as George R. R. Martin; you’re too low key. Besides, your name is too short.

AA: At least I’m not as fat as Martin.

TG: That’s absolutely true, Thriller Boy, but there’s still time. OK, I’m done here. You asked me to make a thrilling announcement, and I did, but it somehow doesn’t fit your vaunted Standards of Decency.

TG (continues): (Cue sound of footsteps receding. TG shouts from distance.) Spoiler alert! John Snow dies! (Maniacal laughter. Door slams.)

AA: The only reason I put up with him is because it’s his blog.

A year and a half ago I initiated a Kickstarter project asking prospective donors if anyone was interested in coughing up a few bucks to have me write a new entry in my long running (thirty years) series featuring my time traveler hero, Alex Balfour. I saw this as an experiment in my continuing effort to figure out the publishing industry in the early 21st century, which, as readers of this blog know by now, is in the crapper, at least to hear them tell it. If the project was successful, or if it was unsuccessful, I would report in to TG’s blog readers and someone out there might actually benefit from my experience.

I settled on $5,000.00 as the amount of money I would ask to fund the project. That’s around the sum that most not-famous authors get for advances these days, which is way down from what it was ten or more years ago. I never planned for it to be money to live on, but just the right amount to keep me on track and working when things got hard -- and in novel writing things always get hard at one point or another. Anything less and I might quit, and anything more was being greedy.

I used part of the money to pay for a stint at my beloved art colony, VCCA, in the mountains of Virginia, which was invaluable to my powering through and finishing the book, and I used part of it to print out the hard copies I’ve been sending out for the last few weeks. Donors: if you haven’t received yours yet, I’m still working on the list. The rest of the money is in the bank, and if any of my donors or folks who buy the book don’t like it, let me know and I’ll send you your money back. (Del, you deserve a refund.)

At this point, my trusty agent has the book and is shopping it around, but that sort of publishing was never the real goal for the project. Nice if I get it, not surprising if I don’t.

Although I didn’t want to do this yet, Amazon has the paperback for sale at $12.95, so anyone who can’t wait for it to come out as a Kindle can rush over there and order a copy.  Eventually it will be up as a Kindle, but I wanted to see what the publishing possibilities were first and get hard copies to my donors before moving it along as an independently published book. All sales are welcome, of course.

Again, thank you to all who have supported this book and the series. Newcomers should feel free to jump in with The Test of Time, but are encouraged to read the entire series. If you’re waiting for George to finish GoT, it’s a good way to while away the lonely hours.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Good Hair, Good Poetry, Good Title

Thriller guy is about to head out on some adventure. I saw him dusting off his desert boots and muttering something about ISIS, which might give a clue to where he’s heading. Really, he’s getting too old for this sort of thing. I blame the government for giving him weapons.

Continuing our last entry about finding a good title for your novel, and the difficulties therein, I’d like to point out how much I’ve always admired W. B. Yeats’s hair and…

Thriller Guy. What the hell? I leave you alone with the blog for one day and you’re going on about some poet’s hair?

A.A. Oh, TG, I thought you’d left already.

T.G. My flight leaves in two hours. Hair? You’re supposed to be talking about titles. What the hell is this blog coming to? For God’s sake, stick to the plan. Do I have to hire someone to come in and keep an eye on you every time I go out of town?

A.A. No. Sorry.

T.G. Jesus. And don’t forget to feed the cat.

A.A. Ahem. So I was reading an interesting article by Nick Tabor in the Paris Review the other day about Yeats’s poem, The Second Coming, and how it been the source of (possibly) more book titles than any other poem. This linked up nicely with my last entry about how when I need a title I pull down my many volumes of world poetry and start looking for something that resonates. Let me give you Yeats’s poem and you’ll see what I mean.

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Pretty amazing, huh? You can’t read more than a line or two before stumbling over a famous book title. Slouching Toward Bethlehem; The Widening Gyre; Things Fall Apart; The Center Cannot Hold; A Blood-Dimmed Tide The Second Coming; Spiritus Mundi; What Rough Beast are just a few of the many variations of titles that have been mined from this one poem. So if you’re having trouble coming up with a title, just…

(Sound of door closing)

A.A. (Shouting) “So long, TG, see you in a couple of weeks! Have a good trip!”

(Silence) OK, let’s get back to W. B. Yeats’s hair. Really, has any author ever had such a good-looking head of hair? If you have any personal author favorites, haircutwise, send them along in the comments. But try to get them here in the next couple of weeks, before TG gets back from his trip. Here are some other pictures of Yeats and his fabulous hair.

Hold the presses! Here's Rupert Brooke, another poet with fabulous hair.

Man, I hope TG doesn't see this post when he gets back.