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Friday, February 18, 2011

An Indie Adventure E-book

In coming months (and years?), I'll probably be reviewing more and more indie books here on the Two-Fisted Blog. Specifically, I'm always on the lookout for dude-lit. I've got some really cool books from my personal library I'll be touting here, some of which you may have never heard of. But I'm gonna try to give priority to indie authors who write in genres which interest me.

I've already dabbled in indies here a bit with my review of The Seventh Compass Point of Death, and Patriots: a Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse. But much more is forthcoming.

So I'm gonna revisit my earliest days of fiction marketing for a moment.

Writing a book is kinda' like least for me it is. When you successfully stalk your game, score a clean kill and drag it back to the truck, you feel like you've really accomplished something and life is good. But all your Pavlovian salivations imagining how tasty that venison (or wild turkey, or whatever) is gonna be dries up when the reality of cleaning/gutting the animal bops you in the nose.

Earlier last year, I had a finished, published novel available for sale. It was well-written, and had little competition in a genre which appeals to what I hope is a sleeping giant of an audience. I felt I had really accomplished something. Then a stampede of adventure-starved readers found my book, bought umpteen-bazillion copies; I quit my job, was offered movie deals and merchandising opportunities (there's an action figure deal with Hasbro going through for Christmas of 2011), and now Vin Diesel won't stop leaving messages on my voice mail to please cast him as Jake McCallum in the big-budget summer blockbuster in pre-production.

April fool!

No,what happened then is that the real work started. It's been a knock-down, drag-out uphill battle getting visibility for Hell & Gone, and unlike the guest posters on Konrath's blog, I still have not cracked the code yet. I do know a lot more than when I started, though, and that's why I no longer waste time on the Amazon genre boards. That place is a morass of half a million writers trying to pimp their books to half a dozen readers. But my naive wanderings there did lead me to discover Mahko's Knife by John O'Dowd.

I clicked on a thread titled, "New West Meets Old-West Values."

Turns out that's a pretty accurate description. Having grown up in the Southwest, and hearing many a tale of Apache prowess from my father (an old cowboy and wannabe pioneer), there was a ring of truth throughout O'Dowd's manhunt story.

Mahko's knife is a Ka-Bar, by the way, like the one I still have from back in the day (it's hanging from my lowrider webgear in my profile pic, though details are nearly impossible to make out in that untactical night photo). Knife enthusiasts will prattle on about how outdated it is, but I still think it's a great knife and have never had the urge to replace it.

Said knife is to be passed down to Mahko's son, Geronimo (they are Apache) when he completes his rites of passage. Thanks to some low-life drug-dealing gang-bangers, Geronimo gets his chance to earn it independent of his father's training.

Make no mistake: ex-Ranger Mahko is a bad dude, and model of an old-school action hero, but not without his flaws and not invincible. The tough love and surreptitious raising of his son appeals to me, and probably would appeal to any man who feels shortchanged and underequipped for life by his own father. The tragedy that befell Mahko's wife, Maria, is hinted at now and then, and finally explained, but I would have enjoyed just a touch more delving into that poignant aspect of Mahko's character.

The villains were believable, and painfully human. I found it...I dunno, refreshing? charming?...that despite the barbaric behavior of some characters in this novel (making for gritty, if not gruesome, action), the budding romance between Geronimo and Laura was depicted so innocently, with a tender finesse.

While O'Dowd's storytelling ability surpasses that of most indie authors I've encountered, his text is unfortunately plagued with the typos and general lack of editing so common in indie fiction. Actually, it's increasingly common pretty much everywhere. (I don't know why, but I've become a little sloppy myself.I thought I'd gain precision with age, but I catch annoying mistakes in my drafts now that I never made when younger. Go figure.)

Last I heard of Mr. O'Dowd, there were rumors of a sequel to Mahko's Knife. Whether there is or not, this would be a solid title for your e-reader's fiction bin.

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