Brown River Queen cover art

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Very Good Drugs

Lately, my various internal organs and sundry squishy bits have been the objects of keen interest by somber-faced physicians and the instruments of their curiosity.

I've had MRIs, CAT scans, blood panels, EKGs, electrocardiograms, and a host of other three-letter acronym tests that all seem to involve two things -- slight blood loss and large bills. With needles inserted into your arm, just to remind you who's boss when the bills come in.

Yesterday yet another camera was poked down my throat.  I'm sure that action and the recent renewed interest in the location of missing Teamster Jimmy Hoffa's remains is mere coincidence. First, I never met the man, and second, I don't think anything that size would fit in my esophagus.

But they took another tissue sample, just to make sure, because you know how clever those Mob hit men can be.

I hope yesterday was the last time I need to have anything the length of a nine-iron shoved down my throat.  Not that the people who did the deed weren't friendly and professional -- they were -- but enough is enough.  I promise, guys, there's nothing that interesting going on in there.

As I was coming out of the anesthesia, I apparently told everyone that Sam Winchester left a glowing review on Amazon for The Broken Bell. That's not likely to happen, since Sam is a fictional character on the TV show Supernatural, but for drug-induced hallucinations that's actually a good hallucination to experience.  It sure beats the one about the 300-pound toad with the bag of rattlesnakes and the taser.

Today I'm taking it easy, messing with my iPod, making ready for the arrival of the turntable, that sort of thing.  But I do want to pass along a review of The Broken Bell, flagged just now courtesy of Google Alerts.  Thanks, Naughty Bits, for the kind words!

Click here to read it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Waiting Game


Well, the new book The Broken Bell is out. The Big Three sites (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Samhain) are all selling copies hand over fist. My Amazon sales rank is holding steady around 16K, which is pretty good for a new book's first day when you're not a household name like King or Koontz.

Now, a seasoned pro in this business would just glance at the various bookseller webpages to make sure everything was running smoothly and get on with the business of writing the next book.  Because really, at this point, the book is going to stand or fall on its own, and there's not much I can do to promote it without making a colossal nuisance of myself.  There are only so many ways and so many times I can wave the 'Buy my book!' sign in your face before you get understandably weary of seeing it.

Maybe one day I'll be that seasoned pro, but it sure wasn't today.

If there's a tech on duty at Amazon's Network Operations Center, he's probably looking at my IP address and shaking his head, because I've been refreshing my Amazon sales page for The Broken Bell all day long.

Take a look for yourself. Click here, then scroll down to the bit that says Amazon Best Sellers Rank under Product Details.

Right now I'm at #16,334 Paid in the Amazon Store.  Which isn't too bad, since it means that only 16,333 items in the entire vast Amazon inventory are selling faster than my book right now.  And since Amazon sells everything from ant farms to zithers, I'm happy with that.  I'll be happier when it drops even lower, but for now, I'm good.

But Frank, you ask, what does that Amazon rank number translate to in terms of actual sales?

Well, I'm glad you asked.  Amazon has steadfastly refused to divulge the specifics of their ranking mathematics, but after my 18th cup of strong black coffee I had a revelation (or perhaps a small cerebral event, same thing) and figured it all out.  Here's how Amazon determines ranks:

Rank = (All the money in the world) times (the number of Jeff Bezos' servers at breakfast) times (the number of self-published vampire romances with the words blood passion in the title) divided by (the combined numeric weight, in kilograms, of all the tears shed at Barnes & Noble when the Fire was released) plus (Planck's Constant, because Wikipedia said so).

Yes.  Yes, it's all perfectly clear now!

Running the numbers -- carry the two, find a common denominator, figure in a seven MPH wind drift, subtract the Battle of Hastings -- aha.

I have sold exactly blue copies of The Broken Bell, with an accuracy of plus or minus ducks.

Um.  Okay, maybe that needs work.

But I'll have to do it later.  Right now I must get back to my refresh button...


The Broken Bell on B & N

All the Paths of Shadow on Amazon

Monday, December 26, 2011

THE BROKEN BELL released Tuesday, December 27

It's very nearly December 27, and that can mean only one thing...

Yes, yes, all right, that means it's nearly Tuesday.  That's not what I'm referring to. And yes, December 27 also marks the last air date of the Carol Burnett Show on CBS, but again, that's not what I mean.

My new book The Broken Bell hits the stands tomorrow, bright and early, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and  Samhain Publishing. This is the sixth entry in the Markhat series, and it's the longest and I think the best yet.

What's The Broken Bell about, you ask?

Well, without giving too much away, I'll say this -- it's about love and hope and fear and loss.  There will be war, and rumors of war. Grooms will vanish, leaving empty altars and determined brides behind.  Dark sorceries will arise. Mama Hog will grumble and stomp. A blood-feud will spill out of quaint, far-off Pot Lockney and come tramping right to Markhat's door.

And through it all, Markhat will muddle ahead, through murder, mayhem, and magic, if need be.

And need will be.  I broke Rannit's peace in this one, boys and girls.  Things will never be same.

To all my Markhat fans, this new one is for all of you.  To anyone who hasn't read any of the series and who's understandably hesitant to dive in, well, why not check out something shorter first, just see if you like the tone and flavor of the thing?  The Cadaver Client is short and a lot of fun, and it's only a couple of bucks (that was the Kindle version; here's one for your Nook).

Still not convinced?  Fine.  Here's the first couple of pages, with helpful links at the bottom, because I'm nothing if not helpful, especially where your money is concerned.


Babysitting banshees is a nerve-wracking business.
And after a morning with Buttercup, my nerves were not only wracked but wrecked and possibly wreaked as well.
Buttercup is all of four feet tall. She weighs forty pounds soaking wet with a big rock in each hand. And despite what you’ve heard about banshees, there isn’t a mean bone in her tiny body.
But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t enjoy a bit of old-fashioned banshee mischief when Mama Hog and Gertriss are away and there’s no one but Uncle Markhat to play with.
Buttercup’s favorite game is to make that banshee hop-step that transports her from place to place without the trouble and fuss of walking through the space between her and, for instance, the top of my desk.
Hop, appear, giggle, hop. From desktop to floor and back again, all in the space of a blink, with my good black hat clutched in her tiny banshee hands.
“That’s my good hat, sweetie.” I put on my most winning talking-to-the-kids smile. Darla claims it looks more like a grimace, as though someone was stepping on my toes, but it’s the best I can do. “Let’s find something else to play with.”
Hop blur, hop blur. She went from floor to desktop, vanished, poked me in the small of my back and was gone when I turned.
Shoes came tap-tap-tapping right up to my door. Not men’s shoes, but female ones.
They stopped. The lady knocked. No hesitation, no furtiveness.
Buttercup appeared at my side. She put my hat in my hand and clung to my leg with what I fervently hoped was purely platonic fervor.
She might be tiny, and she might be a thousand years old, but I’m very nearly a married man, I’m told.
“In the back. Get under the covers. Don’t make a sound ’til I come get you.”
Buttercup doesn’t speak much Kingdom, but she understands it well enough. She nodded once and was gone. I heard my bedsprings squeak through the door Buttercup hadn’t bothered to open.
I put my hat on the rack—right above the new tan raincoat Darla had left there the day before.
Funny. The hat was a gift from Darla too. I wondered how long it would be before my entire wardrobe was the product of Darla’s keen eye for my clothes.
The lady at my door knocked again. Three-leg Cat rose, arched his back and yawned silently before sauntering toward the door, eager to slip outside.
I forced a smile and obliged cat and woman.
Darla stood at my door, grinning. Three-leg dashed between her ankles, circling her once and issuing a rough loud purr before darting away at a three-legged gallop.
 “Mama swears you’ve never risen before noon.” Darla’s brown eyes glinted. She was wearing something high-necked and purple, and the one hand I could see was wearing a silk glove. “Are you sure you’re decent at this unholy hour?”
I made a show of looking at my elegantly rumpled attire. “I seem to be clothed, though by whom I don’t recall. Do come in, Miss Tomas. And bring that picnic basket with you.”
Darla glided in, and the heavenly smells that wafted up from the basket she carried came with her.
The basket wound up on my desk while we greeted each other. Clever devil that I am, I managed to snag a sticky bun from the basket and bring it up and around Darla so that I had a bite ready when we finished the good morning kiss.
Darla turned and laughed and took a bite and then we sat.
I chewed and swallowed. The bun was hot and sweet and perfectly baked.
I took another bite and lifted an eyebrow.
“So, what brings you out with the wagons, Darla dearest?” I asked. “It’s so early the vampires haven’t taken to their crypts yet.”
One of the many things I like about Darla is her utter lack of pretense.
“I’m here to ply you with pastries and my feminine wiles. I want to hire you, Mister Markhat. I want you to find someone for me.”
I choked down my sticky bun. All the play was gone from her eyes, all the mirth from her voice. She had her hands in her lap and she was not smiling. I’d only seen her do this once before.
“Tell me.”

Hooked yet?  Desperate to know what happens next? Have five bucks on ya?

Then get thee to the links below, gentle reader, and welcome to Rannit!

The Broken Bell, for the Nook

The Broken Bell, for the Kindle

The Broken Bell, any other format

One last thing -- if you get the book, and you like it, please consider leaving a review with Amazon, B&N, or Samhain.  We authors live or die by word of mouth, and living is considerably more fun than dying.