Monday, March 21, 2011

A Word to the Wise, Continuing Sales, Some Recommendations

First of all, Thriller Guy is sick, sick, sick of grown-up thriller writers having heroes, tough guy heroes, chuckle. Enough! No more chuckling! Really, has anyone actually seen anyone chuckle? It's a childish, stupid word. Stop. Right now. Never again.

Thriller Guy's ongoing experiment in selling Allen Appel's period mystery, Abraham Lincoln: Detective, in the Kindle format continues. In the month since the book was put up on Amazon, 12 copies have sold. Pitiful, really pitiful. The roll-out has been purposely slow with mentions of the book on this blog, Facebook and now TG's wife has notified her friends. Profits are hovering around $70.00, enough to buy a middling bottle of Balvenie whiskey. Obviously, if Appel thinks he's going to make any real money on the project he is deluded. Actually, thirteen books were sold and one person came to his senses or something and quickly canceled his order and got a refund.

The book chronicles the adventures of Abraham Lincoln and his sidekick law partner, William Herndon as they try to get to the bottom of a mystery surrounding the disappearance and possible death of an addle-brained visitor to their hometown of Springfield, Illinois. Lincoln's on-again, off-again girlfriend, Mary Todd, involves herself in the detecting, much to the disgust of Herndon who could not abide Mary Todd. The fiction is based on a real case that Lincoln once wrote a short article about. He was never able to solve the mystery, but Appel has helped him out with a solution. Along the way readers will, one hopes, learn a great deal about Lincoln and the period.

Here's the deal: the book is fun, funny, clever and damn interesting. If you don't believe Thriller Guy, go to the Amazon Kindle site and take a gander at the three reviews there. TG feels so strongly that you will like this book that he's offering the following terms: If you download the book, read it and don't like it, TG will send you your $9.99 back. Yep, no strings, just comment on this blog with an email and TG will get in touch and send you your money. Now what could be more fair than that? Jesus, what does it take to pry ten bucks out of TG's reader's pockets?

OK, now that's out of the way... On the physical book front -- you know, books, the ones printed on paper -- TG has a few new recommendations.

Mike Lawson continues his entertaining series of mystery/thrillers (House Rules, House Secrets) with House Divided, starring Senate fix-it man Joe Demarco. Joe works for John Mahoney, Speaker of the House of Representatives, a larger-than-life, blustery politician based on the Tip O'neil mold, though in this book Mahoney remains offstage, in a coma. This is a gutsy move for Lawson as this character is a good one and he's taking a chance leaving him off the page. TG can report that the gambit works all right, but he would advise author Lawson to not try it again. TG has some tales of woe that come from his own experience of killing off a well-loved character in a series much to the dismay of readers who were very upset at the move. One of these days, TG will devote an entire blog to this mistake. Anyway, those of you who like a Washington-based mystery will like this series. TG suggests that you start with the first and read them in order, which though not strictly necessary will give you a better look at Joe Demarco's continuing history.

The Burning Lake by Brent Ghelfi is a tough, dark book set in today's tough, dark Russia. Ghelfi's hero is Alexei “Volk” Volkovoy, a man who wears many hats – soldier, spy, criminal, assassin – and who works for the mysterious, dwarfish criminal kingpin known only as The General. The story is built around the disappearance of Volk's girlfriend, a journalist who writes under the name Kato, who is investigating a dead zone in the Urals where a radioactive reservoir exploded 50 years ago. Readers interested in Russia today and who can handle some rough stuff will like it.

TG has some more new thrillers here on his desk to tell you about, but they'll have to wait until next week. Meanwhile, stay tuned for the actual numbers on the book that TG mentored and which was mentioned last week. You will be amazed.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Good News

But First...

OK, Thriller Guy will get to the good news in a minute. First, though, he'd like to point out that after the spectacular unveiling last week of the entry announcing the excellent book, Abraham Lincoln, Detective, written under TG's pseudonym, Allen Appel, a Kindle book, he was surprised to see that only one of you (Thanks, Joel! Love you, man!) seemed to have ten lousy bucks to download a copy. Really, out of 34 followers and who knows how many lurkers, only ONE of you was able to cough up that sort of petty cash? No wonder the book business is in the dumper. TG can't even buy one Tanqueray martini (you don't expect him to drink rail liquor, do you?) from the proceeds of one sale ($7.00). And don't give TG the excuse that you don't own a Kindle, you can download it to your phone or even your computer. OK, since you folks seem to be so poor, TG will send anyone who is too broke (there's no shame in it) a free copy of the book in a nice compact electronic file, just because he feels sorry for you. Just send him a message at telling him how poor you are and he'll get it right out to you. No one in this great country should have to do without the joys of literature because they can't come up with a sawbuck.

And don't expect TG to stop flacking this book in this blog. Consider it the commercial you have to sit through to get to the good stuff.

Now for the good news.

Those of you who are constant readers of the blog (TG loves you!) know that every so often he mentions that he is mentoring several young writers in their quest to produce that all-important first novel. About a year ago a young writer, we'll call him The Kid, (not that he's a kid, but compared to the grizzled TG he is) got in touch with TG about a book he was trying to sell. TG suggested that The Kid read the TG archives and send him the novel. The Kid had been receiving good initial reviews on his partial, but when the entire book was sent he was getting polite but respectful turn-downs. After reading the book in its entirety, TG felt that The Kid was a terrific writer, but he needed help with the structure of the book. So TG told him what he always tells writers in this situation: dump the book and simply write a new one. Really, it's a hell of a lot easier, no matter what anyone else will tell you.

So The Kid agreed, and TG and he began tossing back and forth plot ideas. When The Kid came up with a workable plot , TG agreed and The Kid started to write. Every few months he would send TG what he had done and TG would read, offer a few comments, but mostly say -- looks good, keep on working. The Kid didn't need much more than encouragement, some basic line editing and a few observations and suggestions. He's a real worker. And he didn't have an attitude, didn't complain, didn't explain, he simply understood that when someone points out what might be a mistake, the answer is not to get your back up but to go back and look at what's been pointed out because something is wrong and it needs fixed.

Time goes by. The Kid keeps working. After a year he has a draft. He also has an agent who recognized from the first book that The Kid could really write. The agent offered to work with him while he put together the new book. So everyone was in harness and all pulling together. Notes were given and the Kid hunkered down and did the work to fix all the parts that needed work.

Last week the agent put it out to several publishers. A bidding war ensued. The book sold for more money than you can possibly imagine. After the publisher releases the news on the sale, TG will hand out some real numbers, but at this point it's not appropriate. But it's a big sale. Big. Trust me. Big.

TG would like to take more credit than he deserves for the success of this book, but he's not going to. The credit goes to The Kid who kept his yap shut and did the work. No attitude, no writer bullshit. No excuses. Just did the work. So here's the moral of the story...

The writer dream is still alive. Publishing is in the worst hole that TG has ever seen in his long, checkered career, and yet one guy worked hard and caught the brass ring. Here's the way TG has always envisioned it. Use your imagination...

All the writers who are worth a shit have done the work. Thousands of them. They've written their book. Not just talked about it, not just hoped it would be done, but actually did the work. So we/they are all now sitting around the edges of a gigantic room, waiting. Think Stephen King, no ceiling, just blue sky and fluffy clouds up above. We're sitting in flimsy orange plastic chairs. Cheap linoleum on the floor. Suddenly a door smashes open and the Hag of Fame and Fortune staggers through. She's old, she's dressed in rags, she stinks, her hair is greasy and there's a big mole on her hairy chin. She lurches around the room, falling, dragging herself to her feet, cackling, spinning this way and that, farting, snorting, Christ, she's a real mess. And yet all the writers are shouting Pick me! Pick me! Then she staggers toward the wall, reaches out her bony hand, points an arthritic finger at one of the writers cowering in his or her chair, touches him with her long, thick, sickening, filthy fingernail and croaks, “You! You! You are the one!”

This time it was The Kid she touched.

Next time it could be you.

Shut up.

Get to work.