Posts Tagged ‘Giveaways’

Wow! Another Book Giveaway! You Gotta Be Kidding Me!

Tuesday, June 15th, 2021
Double Down cover
Trade Paperback:
E-Book: Amazon Google Play Nook Kobo Books A Million iTunes

I hear from a lot of readers that they have trouble keeping up with my output. Well, sometimes I have trouble, too – Double Down, the second of the Nolan reprint series from Hard Case Crime (two novels to a book), came out June 8! So, better late than never, ten copies are available in exchange for the promise of a review at Amazon and/or other outlets, including blogs. As usual, if you hate the book you are absolved of your obligation.

Write me at macphilms@hotmail.com. USA only. You must include your full snail-mail address (including name with address to make it easy on me copying it) even if you’ve won books before in these giveaways.

Let’s discuss my rate of output. For one thing, Double Down is two books I wrote decades ago, so you can’t hold that against me. And I don’t mean to sound morbid here, but you may have noticed I’m not as young as I used to be, which means I have an increasingly finite amount of time ahead of me to get my stories told. Yes, this is about making a living, but right now it’s more about getting the work done. And when I’m dead, my output will significantly decrease, and you will have plenty of time to catch up.

To Live and Spy in Berlin by Matt Clemens and me – the third John Sand novel – will be out July 14, but you can order it now. We think the cover is splendid. Will there be more John Sand books? That’s up to you. We have left something of an incredible effing cliffhanger that needs resolving, so it’s on your conscience not ours if sales don’t justify that resolution.

It’s frustrating to hear how many people assume these novels are spoofs (without reading them, of course), though it may be our fault for the tongue-in-cheek titles (Come Spy With Me; Live Fast, Spy Hard). And I provided the tagline, “A Marriage License to Kill.” But we are in the very hardboiled tradition of the original Bond novels and the first four Sean Connery films. Matt and I feel the third John Sand is the best of the bunch.

I have just completed – sent the manuscript to Wolfpack editor Paul Bishop minutes before beginning this update – a novel called The Menace by Mickey Spillane and me. It’s a horror novel based on an unproduced Spillane screenplay. I am hopeful it will do well enough to justify a novel version of another unproduced screenplay of Mickey’s, The Green Woman. If that happens, it will mean all three unproduced screenplays in the Spillane files will have become novels (the first was The Saga of Cali York, which became The Legend of Caleb York).

To Live and Spy in Berlin cover
E-Book: Amazon

In the pleasant wake of being named a recipient of the Faust, the Grand Master award from the International Association of Media and Tie-in Writers, I had an interesting revelation about writing novelizations of film scripts. I think I already knew this instinctively, but with The Menace I realized that my approach to turning the script into a novel was very much the same as a director turning a script into a film.

The Menace will likely not be out from Wolfpack till 2022, since I wrote it as part of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of Mike Hammer’s first appearance in I, the Jury (1947). So I’ll be talking about it more, later.

The nice response the Nolan reprints have been getting brings to mind how Nolan – and frankly my professional life as a writer – began. Specifically, it was with the film Point Blank, based on Richard’s Stark’s novel The Hunter and directed by John Boorman. Stark, of course, was Donald E. Westlake, but it would be a while before I knew that.

This was 1967 and it seemed like one film after another was hitting me hard, and changing many ideas I had about storytelling. Looking back, I’d have to say ‘67 was the best year the movies ever had, or it sure seemed that way when every weekend one or more of the following might happen: The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde, You Only Live Twice, The Producers, Bedazzled, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and The President’s Analyst. Not to mention (well, hell, let’s mention them) The Dirty Dozen, Tati’s Playtime, In the Heat of the Night, Coolhand Luke, Billion Dollar Brain, Hour of the Gun and Elvis in Clambake. Well, maybe not Elvis in Clambake….

Point Blank, as a modern, hard-edged, nearly surrealistic crime film, hit me harder than any (with the possible exception of Bonnie and Clyde). Barb and I saw it at a drive-in. I was still living at my parents’ house and remember vividly going out after dropping Barb off her at her parent’s place and buying Point Blank at an all-night supermarket. I remembered having seen the book there, reprinted by Gold Medal (title-changing The Hunter to Point Blank) as part of a reprint program of the Richard Stark “Parker” novels with covers by Robert McGinnis.

I’d already been reading and loving the Ennis Willie “Sand” novels, which had a similar premise, and within days I had started writing Mourn the Living, the first Nolan novel (although his name initially was Cord).

What I got from the film Point Blank was the modern gloss that could be put on the tough guy novels born of the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s that had so consumed me as a young reader. What I got from Richard Stark’s Point Blank (and the other Parker novels) was a third-person approach that taught me strict point of view and interesting ways to shift time.

Without that film (and the book the film led me to) I would not be the writer I am today. I was so entrenched in Spillane technique – which was tied to the 1950s – that it was vital that John Boorman and Richard Stark drag me into the present.

Which, of course, was 1967.

And what ultimately separated me from Richard Stark was my young age and the world I was living in – soon I would be married and going to the University of Iowa on the Iowa City campus, in a world of hippies and rock ‘n’ roll that entered a bemused Nolan’s world immediately, and made me not just a throwback but somebody writing about his new world in an old established way.

I am always fascinated and impressed and even a little overwhelmed by things like this. Like what? Like buying a paperback of Point Blank with a Robert McGinnis cover, and a couple years later creating Quarry, the child Richard Stark and Mickey Spillane bore that came from my loins (ouch!), a character who would appear in two centuries in books of mine with Robert McGinnis covers.

I am a lucky bastard.

Not rich, not quite famous, but damn lucky.

* * *

Speaking of Double Down and Nolan, here is a review/essay from Book Reporter that is so good I might written it myself…or maybe held a gun to the reviewer’s head as encouragement.

The terrific Borg site writes up the best books of the decade, and names Mike Hammer as Best Retro Novel Series (New/Ongoing). The brief write-up is glowing and wonderful.

Finally, here’s another short but fun reaction to Double Down and Nolan.

M.A.C.

Book Giveaway Part Two – Antiques Carry On and More

Tuesday, May 25th, 2021
Antiques Carry On cover
Hardcover:
E-Book: Google Play Kobo

I have ten copies of Antiques Carry On by Barbara Allan (my wife Barb and me) to give away in exchange for reviews at Amazon (and elsewhere). These are beautiful hardcovers from our new publisher, Severn. Only about half the books on last week’s giveaway are gone, so this is Part Two.

[All copies have been claimed. Thank you for your support! — Nate]

Another important aspect of these giveaways that I sometimes fail to mention is that Amazon won’t publish a review until a book is available for purchase – until its publication date. And sometimes I am sending advance copies. So don’t try to post something, fail because of this Amazon loophole, and forget about your (don’t mean to sound scolding) obligation. As usual, that obligation becomes optional if you don’t like the book.

* * *

Barb and I ventured into the wild again – a day trip to Cedar Rapids (sixty miles from us) and Iowa City (a little more than half of that). We had a wonderful time, though it got rainy late in the afternoon, as we headed home.

We are simple souls. We listened to Dragnet radio shows in the car, to and fro, and had a nice Italian lunch at Biagi’s in CR. We shopped a little – separately – and wound up in Iowa City for more shopping, a modest amount, and had a pizza at Pagliai’s, probably our favorite pizza anywhere.

A delightful day, but the world is…different. Masks are still in evidence, and various Covid precautions, which is fine by us. We were the first patrons in the door at Biagi’s and it felt a bit like eating in a haunted house. But for some years, the older version of us has sought to eat early and go to movies at off-times, because we find our species better taken in small doses.

Barb, in her clothes shopping, found higher-end merchandise – which I quaintly refer to as designer clothes – in short supply. The amount of sweat pants on display indicates a lifestyle change during the pandemic. More startling were the bookstores, both Half-Price and especially Barnes & Noble, where things were laid out differently. Nothing negative about it – mostly bigger aisles and sometimes areas arranged in a square you entered to shop in – just different. At both Barnes & Noble and Best Buy, the decline of physical media was shockingly apparent. Best Buy’s Blu-rays and DVDs were perhaps a tenth of what they’d been pre-pandemic, areas partitioned off with nothing inside. Barnes & Noble’s music and movie section was a ghost town, perhaps a third empty bins and a dominance of the hipster LPs that have me scratching my head – I guess some people like clicks and pops.

Books and magazines seemed about the same at the CR Barnes & Noble, although rearranged and moved around, sometimes for Covid safety, with perhaps a dollop of having kept the staff occupied with busy work during the pandemic.

At any rate, the notion that we could blink away a year and a half and return to “normal” seems wishful thinking. This feels more like England after World War Two.

Another aspect of this new normal is that Barb and I watched, that evening, Army of the Dead, the new Zack Snyder movie that is in theaters and on Netflix. It’s exactly the kind of movie we’d have gone to see in the theater, pre-Covid. While I won’t review it, I will say we both liked it. I may discuss it in detail later on.

I mentioned Dragnet in passing, and one of these days I’ll go into that in depth, too. I will say the collection we’re listening to – “Get ‘Em” from Radio Spirits – is an outstanding one, including some of the earliest, toughest episodes (from 1949).

In the meantime, Matt Clemens and I have answered the proofreader queries on To Live and Spy in Berlin, which is now safely in the Wolfpack pipeline. And I am about to begin a novel based on an unproduced Mickey Spillane screenplay (non-Mike Hammer), also for Wolfpack.

So, with your permission, I’ll get to work.

M.A.C.

Reviews A Go Go (and a Book Giveaway!)

Tuesday, May 18th, 2021
Antiques Fire Sale Paperback cover
Paperback:

We are offering ten copies of the paperback edition of Antiques Fire Sale, the hardcover edition of Shoot-out at Sugar Creek (Caleb York #6), and ten copies of the paperback edition of Hot Lead, Cold Justice (Caleb York #5) in exchange for reviews at Amazon and other reviewing sites/blogs. Amazon, of course, is key.

[All copies have been claimed. Thank you!]

If you read the book and dislike it, you are relieved of your obligation to review it (though of course you can).

If you drop by here regularly, you know that reviews are a matter of some interest on these updates, and even of controversy. But reviews are important because they are one of the only sales tools available to authors. In our case, Barb and I are of an age (even before the pandemic) where we are no longer doing book tours. For years we supported our books with trips to such exotic locales as California, Texas and New York. But a waning desire to travel, and the increasing ineffectiveness of signings, has made book tours less attractive to us. (Centuries and Sleuths in Chicago remains our only regular stop.)

For a long time we maintained regular attendance at Bouchercon, where we could do signings for readers from hither and yon, but health issues prevented attending several of those and of course Covid prevented Bouchercon entirely last year. And we have already decided to pass on New Orleans.

We also did San Diego Comic Con regularly, but that too fell victim to health issues and later the pandemic. I will be doing a one-man (well, two-man because Andrew Sumner of Titan is interviewing me) panel for the upcoming virtual SDCC.

Barb and I hope to do both Bouchercon and SDCC next year. Those health issues I mentioned are well in hand, but we had to skip Bouchercon because of my heart surgery and later lung surgery, and Barb’s pertussis, which had me landing in New Orleans and immediately getting called back to Iowa, never getting beyond the New Orleans airport.

How much good reviews do, I’m not sure. But they seem to be the only thing left to us. They are not infallible –Antiques Ravin’ got rave reviews in all four publishing industry trades (Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, Library Journal and Booklist), after which the series was promptly dropped by Kensington after thirteen successful entries.

The good news about the Antiques/Trash ‘n’ Treasures series, of course, is that we’re doing it for another publisher now – Severn, a British house, which pleases Vivian Borne no end (everything, she reports, is “tickety boo”).

And now I will interrupt myself to share with you this remarkable review for the first Severn House Antiques entry, Antiques Carry On, from Publisher’s Weekly.

Antiques Carry On Cover
Hardcover:
E-Book: Google Play Kobo
Antiques Carry On
Barbara Allan. Severn, $28.99

Allan’s fast, funny 15th Trash ‘ n’ Treasures mystery (after 2020’s Antiques Fire Sale) takes brassy Vivian Borne and her long-suffering daughter, Brandy, the owners of the Trash ‘n’ Treasures antiques shop in Serenity, Iowa, to London, where, at the request of fellow Serenity antiques dealer Skylar James, they drop by the Old Curiosity Shop, whose proprietor, Humphrey Westcott, has a reprint of Murder on the Orient Express for Skylar to give his Christie-loving wife. When Humphrey is found stabbed to death with a letter-opener bearing Brandy’s fingerprints, the women are interrogated by a representative of MI5. Fortunately, CCTV footage proves the Bornes’ innocence, and they are unceremoniously sent back to Iowa, where more suspicious deaths await them. The pair investigate in their own inimitable fashion, eventually discovering a link between the murders and the copy of Murder on the Orient Express. Vivian and Brandy share narrative duties, and their amusing commentary provides much of the book’s appeal (Vivian admits she has “just a teensy-weensy, hardly-worth-mentioning, hint of bi-polar disorder”). Allan (the pen name of Barbara and Max Allan Collins) consistently entertains.

We are obviously thrilled about that one. The book will be out in early July. And the industry trades, PW a star in that galaxy of four planets, fuel both library and bookstore sales.

Let me interrupt this discussion (if me yammering can be so described) and share a wonderful fan letter we received – an actual, physical, through-the-mail letter.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Collins,

Thank you so much for continuing to add new novels to the Trash ‘n’ Treasures series. I just finished reading Antiques Fire Sale. I am looking forward to the release of your newest addition, Antiques Carry On! The characters seem almost like friends to me, since I have followed their adventures and shenanigans through all of your novels.

My sister Jessica Butler and I are huge fans! We share laughs as we discuss the stories. Please keep writing because your works bring joy and delight into our world! Thank you for sharing your talents with us.

Best wishes,
Suzanne Schumann

Fan photo

To say this kind of response makes our day (and not in a Dirty Harry sense) is an understatement. A reader response like this makes the struggle worth it, and believe me, writing – and publishing – is a struggle. Hoping it doesn’t sound patronizing, I am so proud of Barb for developing into a wonderful writer and collaborator – she is the one who makes these books really, really special.

* * *

On another front, it’s been difficult to get reviews for the John Sand series. This may be because Wolfpack – despite getting huge attention in the trades for its burgeoning success and innovative ways – places an emphasis on e-book publication, which seems (to me at least) to make reviews from the trades more difficult to get. How difficult? Neither Come Spy With Me nor Live Fast, Spy Hard has received a single review in any one of them.

Which is why the Amazon reader reviews are so crucial, as are reviews on Internet sites and in the handful of surviving newsstand mystery magazines (Ellery Queen, Strand, Mystery Scene). Thankfully we have had support from two key sites, Bookgasm and Pulp Fiction Reviews, and the Rap Sheet may be doing reviews soon. With your forbearance, I will share the Bookgasm review of Live Fast, Spy Hard with you right now:

Live Fast, Spy Hard, the second title in the John Sand series by Max Allan Collins and his writing partner, Matthew Clemens, again features the former MI6 agent and his wife, Stacey. This time, however, Stacey is the cause of the problems that send Sand around the globe while keeping one stop ahead of potential assassins.

John Sand is living out his role as a high-ranking executive of the oil company owned by Stacey’s father. But all the while he keeps a secret from his wife. He has been tracking Jake Lonestarr, the traitorous business partner of Stacey’s father. Lonestarr is assumed dead, but Sand still feels he is still at large.

Then Stacey mysteriously disappears. Lonestarr is the chief suspect in Sand’s search for his wife. But there is reason to believe that Las Vegas gangster Anthony Morello might also be responsible. Or is Stacey actually hiding from someone that Sand does not know of?

Sand’s search takes him Berlin to Mexico, and finally to the jungles of Curacao. But can he find his missing wife before an army of assassins catches up with him?

The authors present the novel in a third-person perspective, keeping the focus mainly with Sand. There are, however, occasional shifts that allow us to know the thoughts and emotions of Stacey and those intent on ending Sand’s life.

And while the novel’s tone and structure continues to follow the traditions of Ian Fleming’s classic James Bond stories, the references to Bond are noticeably less than the first Sand novel (Come Spy With Me), but Collins and Clemens continue their satirical wordplay with both the title and chapter headings.

Also reduced are the real-life figures Sand encounters. Here, they are mainly confined to President John F. Kennedy – who tries to enlist Sand into a new international spy agency — and, briefly, movie legend John Wayne.

Familiarity with the first Sand novel is not essential. The authors even devote the opening chapter to how Sand and Stacey first met. But reading this latest Sand adventure is greatly enhanced if you already met both characters.

Is this the last encounter of John Sand and his beautiful, resourceful wife? That, it seems, is up to Collins and Clemens. For the time being, we have these two thoroughly entertaining and exciting thrillers to enjoy. —Alan Cranis

Well, Live Fast, Spy Hard will not be the last John Sand book, because just last night Matt and I shipped To Live and Spy in Berlin to Wolfpack editor Paul Bishop.

We love doing these books and the only way we will stop is if sales don’t encourage us to continue. Reader response has been excellent – lots of nice things have been (and are being) said on Facebook about John Sand. But we need you readers out there who like Quarry, Mike Hammer, Nolan, and Nate Heller (even the Antiques fans) to give Sand, John Sand, a try.

Ron Fortier at Pulp Fiction Reviews also likes Live Fast, Spy Hard. His lovely review is right here.

Finally, here’s another great Shoot-out at Sugar Creek review.

M.A.C.

Not Another Book Giveaway! Live Fast….

Tuesday, April 20th, 2021
Live Fast Spy Hard cover

Yes, another book giveaway!

I have ten copies of the second John Sand novel, Live Fast, Spy Hard by Matt Clemens and me, and ten copies of the new Wolfpack edition of Regeneration by Barb and me. It’s first-come first serve. You must include your address (include your name as part of your address, so I can copy paste) and agree to write a review for Amazon (Barnes & Noble and review blogs are also welcome). USA only, please – foreign postage is prohibitive.

[All copies have been claimed. Thank you for your participation! –Nate]

Give me an order of preference, or if you are only interested in one title of these two.

If you read and then don’t like the book, you are released from your pledge to review it, and in fact I’d rather you didn’t. The purpose of these exercises is not to show you what a fine, generous man I am (though of course that’s true), but to attract favorable attention to these books.

You know – get others to buy them.

Live Fast, Spy Hard represents the second of what will be at least three John Sand novels. I’ve mentioned the premise here – that Sand is the spy who (reading between the lines) Ian Fleming based James Bond upon. The secondary conceit is that what happened at the end of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (SPOILER ALERT: Bond marries and his wife is killed) was not reflected in John Sand’s “real life.” He does marry, but the wife – and, so far, the marriage – survives.

I have heard through the grapevine that some readers have avoided Come Spy With Me and now Live Fast, Spy Hard because they are assuming that these are spoofs of spy novels. This may be a result of the lead espionage agent being married and teaming up with his wife for duties with a new spy agency called GUILE, which is vaguely like UNCLE in, you know, THE MAN FROM.

A couple of things.

First, these novels derive from my love for the Ian Fleming novels and the Sean Connery-starring Bond films. I only tolerate Roger Moore, and defend Timothy Dalton because his Bond is like the book Bond, and enjoy the two later Bonds (Brosnan and Craig) because they are loyal to Fleming and Connery each in his own way. As for George Lazenby, he was a faithful to Fleming Bond, too.

I’ve told the story here many times that when – at around age 14 – I ran out of Mickey Spillane books to read, I turned to the author advertised as “the British Mickey Spillane” – Fleming, Ian Fleming. And you may recall that, in junior high, I talked my parents into taking me to see the opening of Dr. No on a school night.

Second, while I was very much caught up in the spy craze that accompanied Beatlemania while I was in high school – watching every dreadful spy spoof from Dean Martin as Matt Helm to James Coburn as Flint (actually walked out of In Like Flint) – I have no love for any spoofy spy thing of the period with the exception of Get Smart. (I do love the latterday OSS 117 films from France. Also, for the record, I love both Dino and Coburn, just not in those films – though I own all of them on Blu-ray, so go figure).

Third, the UNCLE reference, which puts some people off, has a basis in Ian Fleming, thank you very much. First of all, the acronym thing was a big deal in real life, and in the reality of the spies Fleming wrote about (SMERSH being real, with of course SPECTRE a Fleming invention). Fleming named both Napoleon Solo and UNCLE, but was forced off the TV project by the producers of the Bond film series. Hardcore Bond fans may recall that “Solo” was the name of a gangster in Goldfinger.

So the presence of GUILE does not indicate that Matt and I are going down a spoofy path.

Readers who think John Sand marrying a beautiful woman means there is no sex in these books need to either (a) if single, start dating, or (b), if married, buy their wives some flowers and see what happens.

And readers who like the harder-edged side of my work – who value Quarry, Mike Hammer and Nate Heller – should not misconstrue the nature of the John Sand books, which are extremely tough with brutal action and lots of plot twists and turns. Heller fans may in particular enjoy the historical aspect. In pursuing the conceit of John Sand being the “real” James Bond, Matt Clemens and I have devised stories within the early ‘60s time frame that bring in the likes of Castro, JFK and the Rat Pack. These are at once historical novels and espionage thrillers, as well as bloody valentines to Ian Fleming.

But in some ways John Sand is a change of pace, simply because I haven’t written much espionage, although such movie tie-ins as I Spy, Air Force One and In the Line of Fire seem to qualify, as well does the Reeder & Rogers trilogy (Supreme Justice, Fate of the Union and Executive Order) that Matt and I did for Thomas & Mercer.

Here is an interview Matt and I did with Wolfpack editor Paul Bishop.

As I mentioned above, the point of these book giveaways is generating good reviews to in turn generate sales. That’s how I keep food on the table, the lights on, and you entertained. When I – or any writer whose work you enjoy – change things up with a different type of book, and you don’t like it, might I make a suggestion? If you usually like the writer, don’t write an Amazon review advising other fans to steer clear of it. Have some respect for the author, and give your fellow fans the opportunity to judge for themselves.

Now and then I see an Amazon review that begins, “I’m a big Max Allan Collins fan,” followed by a blisteringly bad review. Either I’m not writing as well, or these readers may just not really be “big” fans.

Regeneration book cover, Wolfpack edition

The other book in this week’s giveaway, Regeneration, has generated many terrific Amazon reviews, but I am always up against resistance when I try to break out of my specific noir/historical niche. I write different kinds of things to stay fresh, to stay interested. Particularly when I collaborate, as with Barb or Matt or recently Dave Thomas, I am looking to do something different. That’s on purpose.

Regeneration is a novel I’m particularly proud of. It began as a short story of Barb’s in which I saw possibilities for a novel. As the Mommy movies indicate (and the Mommy novels for that matter) (available from Wolfpack), I am interested in horror and dark suspense. My anthology Reincarnal is packed with specifically that kind of tale. And Regeneration, thanks to Barb’s terrific idea as well as her draft on the novel, is definitely in that cubicle of my wheelhouse.

Regeneration explores ageism on the one hand, and the failure of Baby Boomers to save for retirement on the other, putting them together in a darkly comic and intentionally disturbing mix that reflects Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone as influences on both Barb’s and my work.

Check out the knockout cover Wolfpack has come up with for this new edition.

* * *

Here’s a podcast interview with me, nicely handled by Joe Meyers.

M.A.C.