A St. Louis Park author is giving away free samples of his first novel.
Steve George has worked as a freelance writer for more than three decades and has authored 10 nonfiction books.
To whet the appetite of fiction readers, though, he is giving away electronic versions his first novel, “Dead Blow Hammer,” Feb. 15-19 on Amazon.com as a way of promoting interest in buying his second novel, “Mimsy.”
The two books are part of a larger series George is seeking to nail down called Handy Mann Novels. He released “Dead Blow Hammer” in December, with the unveiling of “Mimsy” set Friday, Feb. 15. The second novel will be available as an electronic book for $3.95. It can be read on Kindle devices as well as free apps that allow ebooks to be read on other electronic devices, like tablets and smartphones.
Links to the text of the first chapters of each book, their Amazon pages and to free apps for reading the books are available at HandyMannNovels.com.
The mystery novels are based on the unexpected plot twists of an adventure-prone handyman working out of his home in a Minnesota suburb.
As the owner of a St. Louis Park home for more than 30 years, George said he knows plenty about working on house projects. He often works on making fixes with his longtime neighbor.
“People always say to write what you know,” George said. “What I do is not very interesting, but I thought about writing something I know if something strange went on. I can still write what I know and something fun and fast.”
“Dead Blow Hammer” refers to an actual tool that is used as a murder weapon in his novel.
A dead blow hammer does not bounce back when striking an object, George explained. In addition to its literal meaning, the device can be used as a metaphor.
“I think if you’re a handyman, you have to be patient and resilient because nothing ever goes the way you want it to,” George said, recalling a visit to Home Depot for a plumbing project that the clerk called “a three-trip project.”
He added, “Unless you have boatloads of money, or somebody to do it, you figure to make due sometimes.”
An Amazon description states, “Dead Blow Hammer tells the story of how one misstep – in this case, the first step on the stairway to Angie Stinson’s bedroom – drew Handy Mann into a life-or-death struggle with evil he never imagined could be so close at hand, a struggle he will need every tool in his toolbox to survive.”
George called his books quick reads designed to “leave out the parts people skip.”
“Dead Blow Hammer” has received favorable comments on Amazon. One reviewer wrote, “This is not a book to read a chapter or two before bed. I attempted this and was up until 4 in the morning. The book has a great flow and characters that are easy to relate to. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a read that grabs you and leaves you anxiously waiting for the next book.”
George noted they may not be for everyone, though.
“If you’re looking for vampires or werewolves or romance, it’s probably not the one,” George said. “There are no zombies in ‘Hammer.’”
His editor, Mary Carroll Moore, said George’s first book kept her enthralled during her first reading of the manuscript on a plane.
“I remember laughing out loud at some of the scenes, and my seatmates looking at me curiously,” Moore wrote on a blog entry about the book.
George’s suspense novels follow a man who works out of his house in a Minnesota suburb.
“I know that,” George said. “I’ve lived that for a long time.”
The freelance writing he works on at home has included books about corporate histories, company reports and brochures and ghostwriting for successful entrepreneurs seeking to tell their stories.
Although he has made a living for decades writing nonfiction materials, George said the downturn in the economy helped convince him to consider fiction writing.
“If you like stability, freelance writing is not the way to go,” George noted. “There are times when you’re up all night without sleep and times you have nothing (to write). Budgeting is very hard.”
The job of his wife, Ellen George, who runs the St. Louis Park High School media center, has helped support his writing career, George noted. He hopes his run at a fiction series will help carve out a new path for him.
George compared himself to the subjects of some of his nonfiction work.
“It’s part of being patient as an entrepreneur,” he said. “You have to be patient with this as well.”
His books are only available in an electronic format, which George said he believes is the future of publishing.
“It’ll take awhile to weed out the people who put something out because they can write a sentence,” he said.
However, George said more established writers are also releasing books electronically.
“I think traditional publishers will either fall by the wayside or have to reinvent themselves.”
Moore, a writing instructor who has been profiled by “The New York Times,” called the book high quality and said it could interest a mainstream publisher.
However, George said he decided to self-publish because he knows from experience what working with a publisher entails. John Wiley & Sons has published four of his books and the University of Minnesota Press has published one.
“I know it’s even harder if you’re a novelist. It’s so easy – well, maybe not easy but not horrible – to self-publish,” George said. “More and more authors are taking that route. I thought it was worth a shot.”
Contact Seth Rowe at [email protected]