I wrote a guest blog at Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds, about how I went about DIY publishing Blade of Dishonor. That’s a bit of a misnomer, as it was a group effort among editors, artists, designers, and myself, and I explain all that there.
What does Steel Heart mean? It means hard-boiled thrillers with heart. And here are ten of my best and most popular, most of which have only been available in print until now.
I tarried a bit in getting a story collection together. Many have asked for one. I wanted to do it right. Then my friend JW Manus, who designs beautiful e-books–if you think that’s an oxymoron, see what she’s done for Lawrence Block, the Protectors anthology, and Hoods, Hot Rods, and Hellcats, among many others–prodded me, asking why I didn’t have a collection of my best stories out there. My wife Sarah made the cover. Jaye and I edited the stories anew, and Jaye designed the book, which when you take a free peek on Amazon or Smashwords, exceeds her reputation.
Right now the book is available on Amazon for Kindle, and Smashwords in all formats, and you can also read it there online. With Kindle Cloud Reader, you don’t need a Kindle to read the book either. Barnes & Noble is taking their sweet time. It is also available for Kobo e-reader, but I am waiting for it to be available through Watchung Booksellers Kobo program before sharing that link. Then the sale will support my local indie bookstore. I will update this page, and the official Steel Heart page when it is available there.
And here are the stories:
Gumbo Weather – Jay Desmarteaux confronts his own past as he spars with a ruthless crime boss to rescue a child from a hellish home.
A Glutton for Punishment – Terry is an MMA fighter who’s never backed down from a fight, but this one might be his last.
Legacy of Brutality – Denny the Dent ain’t smart, but he listens good. When a woman at his gym tangles with her abusive boyfriend, it’s 300 musclebound pounds of street justice to the rescue.
The Forest for the Trees – A street racer finds the love of his life as he escapes from the cops. But how long will he live to love her?
Six Feet Under God – A wise-cracking existential P.I. takes on the ultimate murder case: Who killed the Almighty?
Tiger Mother – in 1950s Harlem, Caldonia Peele hunts down her missing son. It’s the toughs who better be afraid when tiger mother’s on the prowl.
Freedom Bird – Vietnam Vet Harve Chundak battles to teach his unruly son to walk the straight and narrow, but will he lose the war?
Black-Eyed Susan – A bad joke comes to all-too-real life for the denizens of a mill town gin mill.
The Last Sacrament – The dangerous life of an unlikely altar boy.
Kamikaze Death Burgers at the Ghost Town Cafe – Jay Desmarteaux is just trying to get by, running contraband in his voodoo Cadillac. When he tangles with a psycho trucker and the red hot lawyer for a violent biker gang, he fights a battle worthy of the Road Warrior in the Utah desert for his very soul.
Praise for these short stories:
“Thomas Pluck doesn’t flinch and he doesn’t pull punches. He writes with passion, grit, heart, and his prose cuts as clean as a scalpel.” –Wayne D. Dundee, author of RECKONING AT RAINROCK and the Joe Hannibal PI series
“If you don’t know who Thomas Pluck is, you will soon enough. He combines jabs of clever humor with full-impact gut shots.” –Johnny Shaw, author of DOVE SEASON and BIG MARIA
“To read a Thomas Pluck story is to be enmeshed in atmosphere that completely takes over the body and the heart. A place of honesty, brutal but true. Pluck is described best in one word: Storyteller.” –Les Edgerton, author of JUST LIKE THAT and THE PERFECT CRIME
“Black-Eyed Susan by Thomas Pluck is short and mean and well-written. I don’t think I’ve read anything by this author before, but I’ll be on the lookout for his name now.” –James Reasoner, author of THE CIVIL WAR SERIES
“These stories prove that Pluck ain’t here to f**k around.” –Chuck Wendig, author of BLACKBIRDS and THE BLUE BLAZES
10% of the proceeds of this book will be donated to PROTECT: The National Association to Protect Children.
While your waiting for my editor to finish with BLADE OF DISHONOR, and me to finish editing BURY THE HATCHET, have a taste of the MMA fighter who inspired “Rage Cage” Reeves of Blade, and two Jay Desmarteaux stories, plus Denny the Dent and several more. Sorry it took so long to get this together, but I think you’ll agree that it was worth doing right.
Steel Heart: 10 Tales of Crime and Suspense is available at the following e-book retailers.
Amazon for Kindle
Barnes & Noble for Nook
Smashwords, in many formats, including to read online.
Soon for Apple iPad
My good friend Sabrina, of the crime fiction blog My Friends Call Me Kate, needs jaw surgery. She has Lupus. If you know anyone with this painful, joint-damaging disease, or if you’ve read the Dave Robicheaux novels by James Lee Burke- you know what’s she’s going through. And this gal loves her some cheeseburgers and cupcakes. Something I can appreciate.
Her insurance won’t pay for it- and instead of waiting for our country to enter the mid-20th century, we’re going to help her ourselves with an IndieGoGo campaign. Laura Benedict, Laura Curtis, Clare Toohey and Neliza Drew got us together to write stories for our cheeseburger-loving and crime fiction reading friend. The book is called FEEDING KATE, and we’ve got a hell of a line-up:
All the proceeds will go to her surgery, and any left over will go to the American Lupus Foundation. For $5 you get a copy of the e-book, and for $18 you’ll get a print copy made through Lightning Source, by pros.
And if you like my fiction, you’ll get a Jay Desmarteaux story. He’s the lead in my novel Bury the Hatchet, a Cajun boy who likes a cheeseburger now and then himself. He’s a bully-hating bruiser who runs afoul of a biker gang in the Utah desert, who blame him for picking off their riders with his Cadillac. Their lawyer, a leather-clad lady biker named Kate, makes him a deal he can’t refuse: Take out the killer vehicle with a trunk full of nitro… if you loved “Duel” this one will be for you, and the only place to read it will be in … Feeding Kate!
You’ve probably heard of Kickstarter, the crowdsourced funding site. Most commonly used to generate revenue and interest in media projects such as indie films, albums and books, it has also been used to fund everything from designing parks, building better earbuds, flashlights and other gadgets to a bluetooth wristwatch that puts your smartphone apps on your wrist.
Recently I’ve seen many authors use it, some to great success. The biggest one I’ve seen recently (and one I contributed to) was for Dinocalypse Now, a role-playing game universe. They surpassed their goals so superfluously that backers will be getting over a half dozen e-books by various authors for their donation. They had a huge audience, and writers with large fanbases, such as Chuck Wendig behind them.
Other friends have kicked off campaigns, and some are a great deal. When it is tiered like a pre-order, and you get the e-book for the same price as you’d pay when it was released, it’s very easy to jump in and support an author whose work you know you enjoy. Those are my favorites, and I usually end up buying a higher level goodie, like the very cool Ace Double paperback of Butch Fatale that Christa Faust is offering for her campaign: Butch Fatale 2: The Big Sister
Other writers have been just as successful, asking you to pony up $10 or more for an e-book that will go on sale for $4.99, and more power to them. Personally, I don’t want my readers and supporters to pay extra for me to write a book. I’d prefer to think of it as a true advance. How well this works, remains to be seen. The books haven’t been written yet. I trust professional writers like Ms. Faust and Mr. Wendig to provide quality reading on deadline. They’ve done it for years, and there’s no reason to expect them not to keep kicking ass.
I’m not sure I’d be so willing to pony up for a first novel or novella by someone without a proven track record. I’m not being self-effacing here, but having self-published and edited an anthology, if I used Kickstarter to fund my own story collection, I would keep the price very low. (Self-publishing is work, but it doesn’t require cash up front. That’s one reason everyone is self-publishing.)
What do you think?
My story “Faggot” was written for Chuck Wendig’s 100 word anti-bullying challenge a few months back. It’s now up at Shotgun Honey, and if you leave a comment with your thoughts, or experiences with bullying, I will donate $5 for each comment to It Gets Better to support anti-bullying campaigns and gay teen suicide prevention.
It is not an excerpt from my novel in progress, but involves two characters- Brendan and Joey Bello, and is written from the bully’s perspective.
© 2011 Thomas Pluck
Kung Fu Master Pen Monkey Chuck Wendig likes issuing flash fiction challenges. A while back he asked for a three sentence story, and I condensed a revenge tale of mine called “Two to Tango” into three brutal lines for him. He liked it so much he sent me a copy of his e-book 250 Things You Should Know About Writing, a compendium of his hilarious and incredibly helpful advice for writers. Go get it now, really. Okay, if Lawrence Block is reading this, he doesn’t have to listen. Or Neil Gaiman, he’s exempt. But the rest of you, including Philip Roth, should pick up a copy (it’s okay, Phil, it’s not a novel) and enjoy the hot knowledge injection to your pineal gland.
But I forgot that Chuck also said he’d send me a postcard, and it arrived last night. And let me tell you, it made my night. And my day. And my next night, and my next day. It’s like cocaine. Only better.
See, as a writer, I am plagued with Doubt. The Duke of Doubt from the ’80s Burger King commercials, he hovers over my shoulder and tells me things like, “just because readers like your stories doesn’t mean you can tackle a big ol’ novel. So what if you’re 42,000 words in and closing fast on the brutal climax (ed. a great name for a rock band -Dave Barry) and you’ve finally gotten to the really fun parts where all three storylines converge and you realize, childhood, prison and a revenge spree have a disturbing amount in common? You should stop writing it, and go write a story, because that’s EASY. You know you can write one of those.”
And that’s when Chuck Wendig’s postcard flew out of my mailbox and severed the Duke of Doubt’s pharynx like a pen monkey shuriken laced with special sauce. Repeat after me:
I am the Commander of these words.
I am the King of this story.
I am the God of this place.
I am a Writer, and I will Finish the Shit that I Started.
It was like that kung fu flick Circle of Iron where the dude fights for this secret book that shows the secrets of mastering his art, and he opens it, and there’s a mirror. He also wrote some cute ‘n cuddly stuff on the other side that you will not be privy to. Let’s just say we’re both married men with wild thatchy beards and do a web search on “hot bear man love,” and you’ll figure it out. And because there’s nothing wrong with that, I am very proud to be Chuck’s special bear buddy.
(This is how I check to see who reads the whole blog post).
But seriously folks, to name my favorite Joe Walsh album, Chuck gave me the boost I needed. And he has a couple books coming out soon that will kick your ass. One’s called Double Dead and is about a vampire- not one of them pussy vampires either- vs. a horde of zombies. But even better, he has an e-book series about a bullied high school girl named Atlanta Burns who racks the slide and serves up an Elvis-size portion of SHOTGUN GRAVY. I got my copy, now go get yours. His kind words about my writing would only mean so much if he weren’t a mad-killer wordslinger himself. Quit denying yourself the pleasure like a tantric sex weirdo, and go get some.
© 2011 Thomas Pluck