Read Me Dead Blog Tour has begun!

Hi, guys!  As you all may know, I have a new release coming next month!  Yay!  So, what I’ve done now to hype it up some is I’m going on a blog tour!  I’m being hosted by some amazing authors, and the first author, Beth Elisa Harris, has so graciously taken me on for a stop on the Read Me Dead Tour even in the middle of setting up her own blog tour for Soul Herders.  (And, yes, I am a stop along hers as well!  Be excited.  Be very excited!  The first book of hers was AMAZING!)

You can get the first exclusive look at Read Me Dead here.  That include the FIRST CHAPTER!!  Yes, I said it!  The first chapter of Read Me Dead is already out!  Read it now.  What are you still here for?!

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Interview with Author Russell Blake

I recently had an opportunity to talk with thriller author Russell Blake, and pose a set of questions that seek to dig into his process and opinions on writing and self-publishing. The answers may surprise, as some fly in the face of conventional wisdom, but you have to admit that he seems to be doing something right. 

Welcome, Russell!

You recently posted a series of blogs on book promotions that have worked for you on Amazon, including one that cites some pretty amazing sales figures. Ten thousand sales a month? What gives?

The blogs are intended to give other indie authors a window into my world, and share what’s working, and what isn’t. Trust me, the sales figures amaze me as well. I really started my journey as an author when I released my first thriller, Fatal Exchange, in late June, 2011. That’s not that long ago. That sales have ramped that quickly and the work’s been received with such enthusiasm surpasses all my expectations. I tend to orient my blog for other authors, because many of my Twitter followers are authors, and that’s my field of interest. And I want to send the message to my fellow scribes that incredible things are possible, even without an agent or publisher.

Why are your books selling like that? Price? Genre? Promotions?

I wish I knew. It’s certainly not price. I have my titles priced between $2.99 and $5.99, with special promo pricing on a few at $3.47 or $3.77. But I have avoided the .99 cent route. That always smacked to me of undervaluing the work, and I think it set an expectation in people’s minds that your work’s crap. I give away a couple of books for free – Night of the Assassin, and The Delphi Chronicle, Book 1. I’d rather give them away then try to hawk them for .99. I think that sends the wrong message, and it’s last year’s tactic to generate a splash. Only when everyone’s doing it, the splash value goes away. It’s probably a combination of having released a slew of titles so having a decent backlist, the genre I’m in (adventure/conspiracy thrillers), and luck. A lot of this is luck, unfortunately. Nobody wants to say that, but it is.

 

I find it hard to believe it’s all luck. You released, what, 12 titles in 2011? That’s not luck.

Agreed, that part isn’t. I write 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, when I’m in a book, and spend another 3 or so hours a day on social media and promotions, so it’s a grueling workload. I like to think I’m the literary James Brown – the hardest working man in publishing.  But 2012 is the last year I’ll be keeping up that pace. While it’s been good for the author career, it eliminates pretty much everything else from my life, and that’s not healthy long term.

Let’s talk about your latest book, The Voynich Cypher. You say it’s a departure for you. In what way?  

I typically write conspiracy thrillers that are in the Robert Ludlum and Frederick Forsyth vein. But I had this idea stewing to try my hand at a Dan Brown/Raiders of the Lost Ark style pure adventure thriller that incorporated a treasure hunt element. After writing The Geronimo Breach, I outlined what I thought was a compelling plot for a book that used an ancient manuscript written in code as the basis of its story. Fortunately for me, such a document actually exists – The Voynich Manuscript. I crafted an intricate series of hunts within hunts using that document, and the protag from my Wall St. trilogy, Zero Sum, who must decrypt the most enigmatic document in history while being chased by secret societies and megalomaniacal billionaires, who will stop at nothing to protect or possess its secrets. I’m very happy with the way the book turned out, and think fans of the Da Vinci Code and Sahara will find it compelling.

How was writing that different than your other books such as King of Swords or The Delphi Chronicle?

Research. Months of it. Arcane books on the authorship of the Voynich, on its cypher and illustrations, on cryptography, on medieval history and secret societies, on the history of the Catholic Church, on European and Middle Eastern geography… hundreds of hours of research. It’s difficult writing that kind of a book, is what I discovered. Although I hope the end result is worth the effort. So far, advance reviews and feedback have been glowing, so I’m hopeful.

What’s next for you? Anything in the works?

I’m finishing my polish on the sequel to King of Swords, titled Revenge of the Assassin. Then I’ll take a couple of weeks off, and plot out my next one, which will either be a sequel to Revenge, a sequel to Fatal Exchange, or a sequel to Delphi. My goal is to release seven to eight novels this year, so I have to stay busy. But I’ve already got two in the can, so I’m on schedule. Voynich launches March 17, and Revenge will go live end of April, so my readers will never be more than six weeks away from another book in 2012.

Thanks for joining me today! 

You can pick up your copy of The Voynich Cypher here.

 

More on Russell:

Russell Blake is the acclaimed author of thrillers Fatal Exchange, The Geronimo Breach, Zero Sum, Night of the Assassin, King of Swords, The Delphi Chronicle trilogy, and his latest, The Voynich Cypher – a Dan Brown/Raiders of the Lost Ark style adventure thriller based on a real-life fifteenth century manuscript written entirely in unbreakable code. He has also penned the non-fiction tomes An Angel With Fur, and How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time (even if drunk, high or incarcerated). Views expressed are solely those of the author.

Read Me Dead

Hi, guys!  If you’ve been following my blog, you probably know that I’m working on a novel that is due out this Spring!  (Technically, April around the middle of…if all goes according to plan.)  I’m happy to announce that I have a cover now!   I also have a “Coming Soon” video trailer I played around with.

What I don’t have is a tagline…. Nor do I have a blurb I’m completely happy with.

But, without further adieu, meet the cover of Read Me Dead.

A huge thanks goes out to Natasha Brown.  (Check out her website for other work she’s done!)

Blurb:

Alexia “Alex” Wheaton wants to be a normal teenager, worrying about what dress to wear to homecoming and which handsome boy to date, but as the sole witness to her parents’ horrific murder, she can never be normal.

For seven years, Alex has lived with this secret that haunts her memories.  And when the local newspaper reveals her secret, Alex is plagued by the fear that her parents’ murderer will soon find himself another victim – her.

As she follows her heart, the murderer follows her.  Normal is out of the question.   Alex’s life is catapulted into a race against time to save her own life and bring her parents’ murderer to justice.

And for your viewing pleasure:

Being Handcuffed by the Cops – Writer Cops That Is

Castle and the Detectives (Sourced from Google Images)

Have any of you seen Castle?  If you have, you know what an awesome show it is.  If you haven’t, rent the seasons from Netflix and start watching!

There’s an episode that was in, I believe, the second season.  Someone was murdered and on her face was written a message, “psycho, the rapist, your out of time.” Castle said, “Whoever killed her also murdered the English language.”

Richard Castle is a writer I’d love to know!  (I wouldn’t mind knowing Nathan Fillion either though. ;))  Anyway, Castle is a witty character with a sympathetic side.  He’s awesome.  He is also a best-selling author following around Detective Kate Beckett for his Nikki Heat series.  (You can buy the books as well.)

Anyway, I was discussing NaNoWriMo with someone on G+ about a month ago discussing our projects.  My project was going to originally be a re-write of my very first [finished] novel.  When I told him that, I said, “Hope that’s okay. ;)”

In return he said, “It’s not like the NaNo cops will be knocking down your door.”

I had a funny image of Richard Castle busting down the door with a NaNoWriMo badge yelling, “Set the laptop aside.  Down on the ground! DOWN ON THE GROUND!”

Okay.  Realistically this isn’t going to happen.  But wouldn’t it be funny if it did?

Now, to the point.  I’ve never had an editor, but I do have a wonderful group of people who help me edit.  They’re my personal “writing cops.”  Although my dad has a habit of laughing at my mistakes.  Love that man though!  Admittedly, some of the mistakes are quite hilarious!

But, this is why editing is so important.  Even accidentally, we murder the English language.  Sometimes we forget the small things. (And big things.)  What if we accidentally wrote “hear” for “here.”  Or forgot the ‘h’ in “where.”  Any misplaced commas, quotations, apostrophes, etc.  Or “your” for “you’re.”  It can happen, although that is one of my biggest pet peeves!  If I make that mistake I beat myself up.  Anyway…

If you read my last post about guest posting on Karen Baney’s blog about Indie Authors, you’ll know that we self-pubbed authors don’t exactly have the biggest fan base.  However, Tamara Paulin made a good comment about that.

I’m not too worried about trying to change people’s minds about self-publishing in general. I really won’t mind if, years from now, people still say they dislike self-pubbed books, BUT they do love authors X, Y, and Z. I am trying to be Author Z.

I think self-pubbing has already gained a lot of acceptance, as have low-budget indie movies.

However, she also said “Self-pubbers are permitted zero typos!”

It’s true.  We are permitted zero typos.  That’s why it’s important to find someone to look at our work with fresh eyes.  Eyes that aren’t all lovey-dovey for our work.  We’re blinded.  They aren’t.

In my financial state, aka starving artist, I can honestly say, I can’t afford an editor right now.  So, I have to rely on my beta readers.  They make good cops.  Especially betas who are writers!

When I first started writing, I was scared to death of feedback.  Now, I crave it!  I can’t get enough.  Really.  I’m still scared of feedback.  It makes me nervous, but I do appreciate it very much.   Feedback furthers our writing.  We learn from our own mistakes.  Hopefully.

So, don’t take feedback for granted.  Welcome the “cops” into your life.  They’re only trying to help.  Let them handcuff ya and book you for murdering the English language.  But don’t worry.  They’ll let you off for good behavior given you correct your mistakes.

Why not give us a chance?

Today, Karen Baney featured me on her blog.  As Indie authors, we have a hard time selling our work, our selves.  People are apprehensive, and I understand that apprehension.  I was there at one point.   The community we have together is amazing, and we don’t just include writers, we care about the readers too.

So please take the time to check out my guest post, Taking a Chance on Indie Authors. If you don’t mind, tweet about it, share it on Facebook, Google+.  We want to spread the word.  Thanks!

 

Spencer Brokaw Discusses His Novel and Self-Publishing at the Age of 12

Spencer Brokaw

I had the honor of meeting Spencer Brokaw through Goodreads a few weeks ago.  There are a lot of young authors, but he is the youngest I’ve met so far.  I wanted to share his story about writing and self-publishing at such a young age. 

So, it is with great pleasure that I introduce Spencer Brokaw.

Can you tell us about yourself?

I’m Spencer Brokaw and I’m 12 years old. I published my first spy novel this year via Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords. I have been writing on my own time since around age 7. I love to read so I can get new ideas for books.

You wrote and self-published your spy novel, The Impenetrable Spy, at the age of 12.  Describe that for us.  How does it feel to be published at such a young age?

It feels great. It is very exciting to see my book on Kindle and Smashwords. When I started it, I thought that it would never get published. My only intentions were to entertain myself. I had been surfing the web for weeks and I finally found Kindle Direct Publishing. The same day I uploaded everything. I woke up the next day and my book was available on Kindle and it didn’t cost me anything. I was so excited. I got out of bed and ran into my mom and dad’s room to show them. Ever since then, I have been addicted to twitter sharing my story with other writers.

The Impenetrable Spy by Spencer Brokaw

Being so young, how long have you wanted to write?

I started writing at a young age and I never really stopped. I typed my first book “Agent J” at age 8. I then included Jack as a character in The Impenetrable Spy because I loved the character so much. I have always been serious about writing since then.

What was your inspiration for The Impenetrable Spy?

My inspiration was my dad. It was a boring summer evening and I began to write. I wrote up until the restaurant scene in the beginning of the book before stopping and letting my dad read it. He loved it, so I kept writing. Then, I didn’t revisit my book for a long time. I got addicted again and finished the last half of the book.

The funny thing is that when I first started, the book had a girl agent that helped Zack. The power went out and I was ticked because my writing was gone. I restarted it and made it to the restaurant scene as written above. I am so happy that the power went out. The book wouldn’t have turned out nearly as good with the girl and everything.

Do you have a certain writing routine?  How do you manage school work around your writing?

I normally write a little bit a day, that way my writing stays good. Managing it around schoolwork is a breeze because I don’t have that much homework. I normally come home and begin to write.

What have you learned about yourself or your writing so far?

I have learned that I definitely like to write and that it only gets better the more I write.

What are your ambitions?

My ambitions are for people to discover me and my website where I post about self-publishing and the writing process. I want to become a full time author when I’m older and hope to eventually see my books in bookstores.

About Spencer Brokaw: I am Spencer Brokaw and I am 12 years old (2011). I published my first book this year (The Impenetrable Spy).Writing is something I enjoy and I plan on writing a four part series. I enjoy writing fiction because I have control over the characters and the world they inhabit. I currently reside in Ohio. In my spare time I enjoy swimming, golfing, playing drums, and reading.

For More on Spencer:

You can follow his blog or his Tweets

His book is available on Kindle and Smashwords.