Monday, November 28, 2011

Win a FREE Kindle Fire!

I read today that Amazon expects to ship six million Kindle Fire tablets this quarter alone. Most of the people receiving one will pay two hundred bucks, as it seems Amazon has no intention of discounting their brand-new product so soon after its release.

But you can get one absolutely free! I will be giving away one Kindle Fire to one lucky winner, and you only need to follow three easy steps to qualify:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cheating your way to a best-seller - Achieving sales the Q.R. Markham way

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times for Q.R. Markham. His novel, ASSASSIN OF SECRETS, was receiving good reviews, presumably selling okay. Then comes the charge that whole paragraphs, maybe even sections covering several pages, of Q.R. Markham's novel were ripped off from other books.

It's a dark and stormy night for lots of red-faced reviewers, too, including Kirkus, which gave ASSASSIN OF SECRETS a starred review, and Publishers Weekly, which also awarded it a starred review and even mentioned an "obvious Ian Fleming influence," the ultimate in irony, apparently not realizing it was less "influence" and more "stealing."

Author Jeremy Duns did a little digging, and according to a story in the Wall Street Journal, came up with "at least 13 novels" whose copyrighted material was lifted word for word by Q.R. Markham for his novel. Duns, who was fleeced into providing an author blurb for the book, calls it "the worst case of plagiarism I've ever seen."

Frankly my dear, Q.R. Markham - which isn't the thief's real name - doesn't give a damn, apparently. He at least has the good sense to hide behind a pseudonym, not that a fake name will do him any good now.

The frustrating part of this farce for any author who has worked to create entertaining fiction and labored largely in the shadows of anonymity is that this shameless thieving dirbag, devoid of any shred of integrity person is now selling copies of his book hand over greedy fist at Amazon, despite the fact ASSASSIN OF SECRETS (Kind of an ironic title now, if you think about it) has been pulled by it's publisher, Little, Brown, and is no longer available.

As I write this, ASSASSIN OF SECRETS is ranked #234 in all books at Amazon, including #5 in Spy Stories & Tales of Intrigue, and #73 in Suspense Thrillers, all stratospheric ranks I have yet to approach as the author of two thrillers.

So, Mr. Q.R Markham (I did a little digging and discovered Q.R. stands for "Quite Red-faced), congratulations. You are now famous. Maybe not in the way you wanted to be, but hey, in today's society any sort of fame is worthwhile, right?

Personally, after seeing how your book has benefitted from your shameless, shameful thievery, I've decided the time has come for me to come clean about an incident from my past. In the ninth grade, I got caught cheating on an algebra test. That's right, the kid behind me ratted me out to the teacher when I wouldn't share the answers with him.

It was both the beginning and the end of my criminal career, as I decided a life of crime and deception was not worth the potential embarrassment of being caught, something Q.R. Markham might be discovering even as we speak.

But here's the thing. I did it. I cheated. I think it's time now that you went straight to Amazon and ordered my thriller, THE LONELY MILE to discover what all the fuss is about. Teach me a lesson just like you're teaching Q.R. Markham a lesson by ordering his book.

Please. It's the right thing to do.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Review: "That Damned Coyote Hill," by Heath Lowrance

I was introduced to Heath Lowrance's work last spring, when I read his debut novel, THE BASTARD HAND, and was blown away. My full review of that book is here, if you'd like to check it out, but suffice it to say I discovered, in THE BASTARD HAND, an author who can mix it up with the best of them, creating fictional worlds where you're never quite able to get comfortable, where the good guys ain't necessarily all that great and the bad guys might not be exactly what you think they are, either.

In other words, I discovered a guy penning material more or less in anonymity that any big-time author could be proud of, if only he had the balls to write it.

That feeling was reinforced when I read Lowrance's short story collection, DIG TEN GRAVES. I meant to post a review here but never got around to doing so, being the lazy slackass I am. Let me just say this about DIG TEN GRAVES. If you don't get chills down your spine when you finish reading the first story, "It Will All Be Carried Away," you might as well drive to the funeral home and have them shoot you up with embalming fluid right now, because you're already dead.

The rest of the collection is just as good, and I spent a lot of time after I ifnished reading it trying to figure out why it held such a strong appeal for me. The answer? Heath Lowrance writes the kind of stories I try to write. He's like a good football running back, getting you to think he's going one way, and then he turns on a dime and goes in a totally different direction. I love that.

All of which brings me to the latest Heath Lowrance gem, a digital short released by Trestle Press titled, "That Damned Coyote Hill." It sounds like a western for good reason - it is.

Also, it isn't. I'm not a big fan of westerns - I got more than my fill watching Gunsmoke every week as a kid. It was one of my dad's favorite shows and we only had one TV. If you don't know, Gunsmoke was on TV forever and I'm pretty sure I saw every freaking episode. Twice.

So it took me a while to get around to reading "That Damned Coyote Hill." Well, let me tell you, I'm a damned fool. This quick-reading tale - somewhere in length between a short story and a novellette - grabs you from the very beginning and doesn't let go of your ass until the last word, when you put it down, shaken, trying to figure out what the hell just happened.

It's something out of Quentin Tarantino's worst acid-induced nightmares. It's something entirely different than what you expect. Believe it. Whatever you think you're getting into when you begin reading "That Damned Coyote Hill," I'm here to tell you you're wrong.

I've said it before and I'll say it here: Heath Lowrance is the writer I want to be when I grow up. Do yourself a favor and download "That Damned Coyote Hill" to your Kindle. It's only ninety-nine cents. You won't regret it. Unless you're just waiting for that last dose of embalming fluid.