Leftovers = Freebies!

I recently enjoyed my first book signing, last Friday night at Idle Hours Bookshop in South Bend, Ind. Despite the crappy, cold weather, we had a good turnout and I want to thank everyone who made it downtown. Unfortunately, not everyone could get out to the signing, and some folks have expressed remorse at missing a chance to get a signed book. Therefore…

Me, signing.

I have an offer for you: left over from the signing are a few copies of Wolves Dressed as Men bearing my signature. If you would like a signed copy, I’ll send you one FOR FREE, if you head over to Amazon and purchase a paperback copy of Muscle Memory.

I need all the sales through Amazon that I can get for Muscle Memory because I’m part of the New Bizarro Author Series. If I sell at least 200 copies of my book through Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com in a year’s time, I could receive a contract from Eraserhead Press to write more books. And since that’s my ultimate goal, you would be doing me a huge solid by buying the paperback version from one of those two sites (though I personally prefer Amazon since it’s more user friendly).

Thus… go here: Amazon or here: Barnes & Noble and buy a pulpy-paper copy of Muscle Memory, then email me here: lowe435@gmail.com and let me know you did so, and I will send your signed (and totally free) copy of my other book, Wolves Dressed as Men, to you. Plus, I still have some bookmarks left, and maybe some cheese from the signing. I’ll definitely throw in a bookmark. The cheese will have to be a surprise.

New reviews, and upcoming interviews

The Buy a Book, Help a Kid campaign is beginning to gain some momentum. Sales are good and with exactly half of the month left, I’m hopeful that I can still reach my goal of 200 total copies sold. Thanks to all who have helped me get the word out, and continue to do so.

Some more reviews have popped up here and there on the Internet for both books. Rodney Carlstrom gave Muscle Memory 9 out of 10 stars on his site, The Sci-Fi Guys Book Reviews.

Esteban Silvani also reviewed Muscle Memory for Esteban’s House of Bizarro.

And Michael C. Pennington, editor of Aurora Wolf Literary Journal Of Science Fiction and Fantasy, said this about Wolves: “Wolves Dressed as Men is an exceptional Thriller, and not your average howl at the moon. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a story they cannot put down until finished.”

Michael will be my guest on this site very soon. He is also a foster parent and was a foster child himself once, and he agreed to share his unique perspective on fostering.

Lastly, don’t forget to check out I Read Odd Books tomorrow for yet another review of Muscle Memory, as well as a chance to win a copy of the book. In fact, you should hit that site every day this week because it’s Bizarro Week! with five new reviews of New Bizarro Author Series titles, and five chances to win a free book.

Wolves on the NOOK & I Read Odd Books giveaway

I don’t know how I missed this, but Wolves Dressed as Men is also available for the Barnes & Noble NOOK.

In other news, Muscle Memory will be reviewed on I Read Odd Books on Tuesday, Feb. 15, and they’ll be doing a drawing to giveaway a copy of the book. You just have to leave a comment on the review that day to be elligible for the contest. In fact, each day that week, there will be a giveaway for one of this year’s batch of New Bizarro Author Series books, so click that link all week and win you somethin’.

Buy a Book, Help a Kid is off and running!

One day into my month-long donation drive, and the Buy a Book, Help a Kid event is off to a roaring start. I’m donating my royalties for all of my book sales in the month of February 2011 to a not-for-profit foster care agency, and so far the response after just one day has been exciting and humbling. And we still have 27 days to go. Thanks to everyone who has helped so far, including spreading the news and getting the word out. I don’t have the words to describe my thanks to all of you.

Buy a Book, Help a Kid - but just don't let them read my books, as they may cause adverse effects on the nation's youth.

But this is only the beginning, so I will continue to ask for your help in spreading the link to this event as far and wide as you can. (Click the Tweet button below, post this on Facebook, come and “attend” my Facebook event here, sneak this link onto your favorite message boards, send it to your Congressperson…)

And that leads me to the other pieces of cool news I’d like to share…

In the past couple weeks, I’ve gotten some exciting reviews for both Muscle Memory and Wolves Dressed as Men - so if you’re not sure about the books, or are seeing them for the first time, I encourage you to check out what others have to say about them.

John Miller at Liquid Imagination reviewed Wolves here, and Jason Pettus with the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography (CCLaP) gave Muscle Memory 8.2 out of 10 stars here. And there are a few more reviews still to come. I’ll share them when they go live.

Buy a Book, Help a Kid

In 2009, my wife and I became licensed foster parents. Since then, I have seen what a difference a caring home and supportive family can have on a child in need. I have also realized that I want to do more, and I would like to ask you to help me.

For the month of February 2011, all royalties I receive for sales of my two books, Muscle Memory and Wolves Dressed as Men, will be donated to a national not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to foster care and helping children in need.

Just so there is no misunderstanding, my books are in no way connected to fostering, either as a parent or a child. Muscle Memory is a bizarro comedy about body-switching rednecks (read an excerpt here) and Wolves Dressed as Men is a dark werewolf thriller (read an excerpt here). So, what do they have to do with donating to a foster care agency, you may ask? Nothing, except that it just so happens that I am both a writer and a foster parent. While my books are essentially mindless morsels of fun (for the most part), I like to think they also provide me a unique opportunity to do something more than just peddle entertainment to you. I see them as a chance to give back a little more, whatever that amount ends up being. And for you, the reader, maybe you get an extra slice of good karma on the side.

Because my books are of an adult nature, I won’t name the organization to which I will make my anonymous donation, other than to say that they’ve been around for more than 100 years and have active agencies in 12 states. They provide training and services for foster and pre-adoptive parents and help thousands of displaced and troubled children every year. They specialize in therapeutic services, which means in most cases they handle the more difficult, abused or infirm children who are in need of special care and treatment. With this donation, I will not be implying any endorsement from this charity. It will simply be a gift, our gift, to help them continue the good work of caring for children in need.

If you would like to join me in this effort, all you have to do is buy a book. Simple as that. Between all the versions of these two books that are available, the average royalty per copy I receive is about 25% of the price you will pay. Therefore, for each book bought from Feb. 1 through Feb. 28, approximately 25% of that price will end up as a donation to a very worthy organization doing wonderful work to help children in need. I will post the sales numbers for that month for all to see, and my ultimate goal is to send at least a $500 donation. Based on the averages above, that would come out to more than 200 copies sold. It’s a lofty figure for one month, but I think it can happen with your help. Please share the link to this post and let’s spread the word.

Muscle Memory is available in print version…

- At Amazon:  CLICK HERE

- Or the Barnes & Noble website:  CLICK HERE

Wolves Dressed as Men is available…

- In print at Amazon:  CLICK HERE

- In print on Barnes & Noble:  CLICK HERE

- For the Amazon Kindle:  CLICK HERE

- For the NOOK: CLICK HERE

- Or in PDF format for other eReaders on the publisher’s website:  CLICK HERE

For more information about fostering, please visit these websites: FosterParenting.com  &  Child Welfare League

Buy a book, share this link, tell others about it on Twitter and Facebook, and help a kid. Thank you for reading.

 – Steve Lowe

South Bend Tribune story features me

Kirk Cameron approves this message.

My hometown newspaper, the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune, wrote a cool feature story this morning about my two books and the process of getting published by an independent press. I apologize in advance to the publishers of the Tribune for their impending drop in readership and rise in angry letters to the editor.

Read an excerpt of Wolves Dressed as Men

I posted an excerpt of MUSCLE MEMORY about a month ago, and thought I would toss up part of my other book, WOLVES DRESSED AS MEN as well. This chapter is from the middle but it’s fairly easy to follow since it’s mostly exciting action. The main characters, Thiess (werewolf dude) and Maria (the babe that’s hot for him), are discovered by The Tracker (the badass werewolf hunter who’s out to get Thiess at all cost). That should be all the setup you need…

* * *

Chapter Seven

Thiess stood in the doorway watching the hooker. She passed a photograph through the passenger window of a car idling at the curb.

“I ain’t see the dude, but he big,” he heard her say. He instantly knew she was talking about him. “He come out the alley fast and jus’ grab her and knock me on my ass. Then he was gone. Smelled bad, too, like a dead dog or sumthin.”

Maria stood on the sidewalk, checking the street. The neighborhood buzzed with an energy that assaulted his senses. Aromas popped in his nose. Men leaving the pornography shop next door
wore a muddled musk of oil and latex and guilt and shame like pheromonal cloaks as they passed by with their secret purchases. He scanned each face for…something. He didn’t know what, but
he felt he could read them. They paid him no mind whatsoever, each attending to their agendas, except for the hooker.

She straightened up and turned toward him, then to the others hustling and ambling along. She had picked something up, with her head tilted back as though she was searching for his scent, but clearly felt unsure of what exactly she sensed.

Then he felt another set of eyes on him.

Across the street, on the park bench, hiding behind a newspaper, pretending to read. Mud caked boots, the end of a leather overcoat dangling behind the seat, a closely cropped military crew cut. Thiess knew in an instant who it was. The Tracker must have realized it as well and looked directly at Thiess. That brief connection set off every warning signal in Thiess’s body.

He snatched Maria’s hand and hauled her up the stoop and into the building. The wall near his head exploded in a shower of plaster and splinters. He glanced back through the newly formed hole to see the Tracker in the middle of the street, charging toward them with a rifle jutting from his shoulder.

“Go! Run!”

They flew down the first floor hall toward the fire exit in the rear, Maria struggling to keep his pace. They slammed through the back exit, setting off a wailing siren, and ran through a filthy alley.

 Thiess’s body surged with a vigor that powered his muscles and wiped clean his mind. His surroundings fell away as they sped along, the edges of his vision graying as he focused straight ahead. He felt no urge to fight, only to escape, that familiar terror that he had felt most of the morning. The fear stoked him along, oblivious to Maria’s pleading until she had fallen and he was dragging her along the pavement. She cried out, finally disrupting his focus, and he hauled her back to her feet. They stood in the alley huffing for air.

“I can’t keep up with you. You’re going too fast.”

“Here,” he said as he guided her over to a dumpster. There was just room enough to slide behind it. “Hide here and I’ll lose him. Meet me at the church, you know the one. Where you saw me go last night.”

“What if he finds me here?”

“He won’t bother. He’s not after you.”

Thiess hesitated despite the urge in every twitching muscle to flee. He held Maria’s shoulders and pressed his lips to hers. He felt her initial tension melt away and she kissed him back. Then she pushed him away and said, “Now go! I’ll find you. I promise.”

As he watched her wedge in behind the dumpster, a distant echo of footsteps drew near. He bolted again, blasting along the alley. He turned left down a long corridor, behind opposing rows of desolate buildings, but it dead-ended at a chain-link fenced topped with razor wire. The Tracker hadn’t broken into view yet, but Thiess knew he was coming. With each second he delayed, his pursuer closed in. The walls of the crumbling tenements on each side leaned closer and loomed taller, blocking out the sunlight and drawing a veil over his eyes. His breathing constricted and his muscles began to knot and pulsate. Incoherent thoughts entangled his mind as he searched every corner and wrenched on every locked doorknob of the claustrophobic alley. The nearing footfalls boomed in his ears like cannon shots, drowning out any shred of rationality he had left. He huffed and spit and began to whine as he backed toward the corner where building and fence came together.

A lone suggestion from some deep recess in his brain whispered to him, an ancient, familiar voice.

Look.

He cast his face up to the shrinking sky above, searching for the source of that voice. He thought he would see God. Instead, he found salvation in the skeletal outline of a fire escape ladder directly above his head. He leaped high into the air and grasped the lower rung of the ladder, a full story off the ground. He pulled his body up the clattering rungs and scaled the rusty scaffolding until he reached the roof. A blast of fresh air met him. He filled his lungs and immediately felt renewed by the distance he had gained on his pursuer. His body surged with power as he raced toward the roof’s edge and vaulted across, without hesitation, to the top of the next building. He continued on until his muscles began to tire and that omnipresent sense of urgency began to slowly drain away. He stood at one final parapet wall and realized that he couldn’t muster the strength or the courage for one more jump. Every normal fear of teetering at the edge of a precipice returned and rational, terrified thoughts replaced the droning buzz of adrenaline.

He stumbled away from the edge and headed for the rooftop doorway. A man stood by the door, grinning and holding a package under his arm. Their eyes met briefly as Thiess passed. He saw a flicker in the man’s black pupils, a flame that contradicted the man’s gentle smile. Thick scars crept up the man’s neck and spider-webbed around a smooth, yellow blotch on his right cheek. Thiess  detected a sour note of gasoline as he passed through the door into the stairwell. As the door swung shut, the man simply stood and watched with his placid smile and smoldering eyes, his hands folded before him and his package tucked under his arm as though he were waiting patiently at a bus stop.

Thiess descended the stairs slowly, each step more difficult to navigate than the last. His body felt like it had entered shutdown mode and would soon switch off. He scuffed down a hallway filled with open doors. He peered into the rooms and discovered huddles of semi-coherent men and women languishing behind a haze of smoke. Some inhabitants regarded him with fear etched upon their gaunt countenances as he passed and clasped their precious glass pipes close to their breasts. Others simply swooned and paid him no mind through half-closed eyes.

He staggered down to the street, lurching along like the rest of the building’s patrons, and disappeared behind the gritty veil of the inner city.

* * *

Read the rest in print here.

Or get it on the Kindle here.

Or get a PDF file for your eReader here.