‘Tail of the Dragon’: ‘Mr. Smith goes to Washington’ meets ‘Smokey and the Bandit’

imageMy 2012 novel Tail of the Dragon stayed sold out at Amazon.com most of that first year of release and well into 2013. However, by the fall of 2013 the cash strapped publisher had too many books on their roster not making money that they had to fold up their tent and close. Traditional publishing is difficult for small to medium markets, which is understandable. Even giant book sellers are having a hard time these days keeping books on shelves with the advent of the book uploads that are so fashionable now. My publisher was slow to embrace this technology which was a major problem. As my novel stayed sold out I had to constantly lean on them to keep books stocked, but they couldn’t keep up with the printing demand so it seriously stifled sales. This is what the cover looked like during this period, shown above.

The novel features what is clearly the most exciting car chase in history—without there even being a close second place contestant, so I thought my publisher was losing a major opportunity with the book. Another issue was that the publicist I was working with was a major left-winged softy who personally despised me,–my blurbs and the content of my novel–so that didn’t help matters. Up until meeting him, I had a wonderful experience with my publisher. But the moment I met that guy I knew trouble was ahead and that my publisher would be at the front of it. Not only did it affect my project, but several other authors as well. All it takes is one weak link in a chain on something like that, and everything falls apart.

After the proper amount of time passed my son-in-law and I decided to take it upon ourselves to release the title as a special edition for online readers—which required a version of the book that I personally preferred early in the editing process, to satisfy a market that I had heard all too much about during the release. Fans of the novel wanted Tail of the Dragon as a digital download and my publisher didn’t offer the option, and the contract I had with them prevented me from doing it on my own. But now that I am free of that contract, I am making the popular novel available for digital download as we are on the recent Cliffhanger series, The Curse of Fort Seven Mile.

For those who need a review, my novel Tail of the Dragon features the character of Rick Stevens—a rebellious loner whose NASCAR dreams have fallen short. He finds himself victim to the governor’s plans to run for President of the United States. Governor Wellington Royce of Tennessee relies on support from the Fraternal Order of Police to catapult him into The White House. Royce beefs up the police presence on The Great Smoky Mountains’ highways, and offers incentives to those generating citations from tourists. Thrown in jail, abused, and setup, Rick Stevens accepts an offer from the governor’s political enemies to declare war on the highway patrol. With twenty million dollars, Rick builds the car of his dreams and wreaks havoc in what will become the greatest car chase in history. The car chase becomes a journey of self-discovery and new-found romance as a gauntlet of guns, missiles, and the might of the military wait for him at the finish line. The treachery of politics proves more sinister than even death.

The novel is loaded with very controversial political elements and riveting action. I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie, so I wrote it to impress my sensibilities, which are often way over-the-top for average audiences. When I say that the car chase is unlike anything ever done before, I am quite serious. It is on a scale very close to a second Civil War in America and makes some points that I think are quite important, and timely to contemporary standards. It is an exciting piece of work and was a lot of fun to write. The book was listed as action adventure/philosophy which raised a few eyebrows, but there really is no other way to describe the work. For those who just want to read an exciting love story full of patriotism, history, and lots of car crashes through shopping malls, down the city streets of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and destroying entire towns as the might of the United States military comes down on the fleeing bandits—they’ll be more than satisfied. Is it possible for such a story to have a happy ending? Well—you’ll have to read for yourself. Even seasoned readers had no idea how this story would end and did not see the climax coming. The point of the story is not so much in all the lives lost, the laws broken, or the politics between two old rivals connected directly to the White House—or even the sex—it’s in the final pages which take place in the Oval Office with the President of the United States. It’s a story that came directly from personal experience and is why this is more a work of philosophy than just pure action in homage to the Dukes of Hazzard or Smokey and the Bandit. Like the popular radio talk host Doc Thompson for Glenn Beck’s The Blaze said of the book, it’s like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington combined with Smokey and the Bandit—only with a lot of carnage and fast cars. It’s a slam dunk for readers who want an exciting experience.

It is a pleasure to release the novel under my old company of Cliffhanger Research and Development, as The Curse of Fort Seven Mile will be. As part of this new age of publishing, companies like my old publisher just can’t compete with fast on their feet competitors who can by-pass their gates, their edits, and their softened exposition to water down the content.   When I started Cliffhanger Research and Development years ago, it was exclusively to shake up established thinking and get people asking questions, so it comes with great pride to release Tail of the Dragon under this company. It is safe there and is best positioned to deliver the type of material that is lacking in modern works of literary endeavor which is saying a lot, because there’s a lot out there.

Even two years ago when I was doing media for Tail of the Dragon digital downloads were just coming into the main. Many people were telling me that I needed to provide an online edition—which I agreed so I approached the publisher about that as well, and they weren’t interested. They were set up to make their money off traditional publishing and didn’t know what to do with online publishing. The reason was that a much smaller outfit was now able to perform the task that publishers traditionally did, and they weren’t interested in giving in to that strategy. I guess they thought that if they dug in their feet, they’d wait out the storm. But, the storm never stopped, it just intensified sweeping them out to sea. At the time, all I could do was watch and wait out my contract.

I waited a year for legal issues to settle after they sent me the official separation agreement. It felt a little like a divorce and the last thing you want to do after such a relationship is run out and start sleeping around. So instead, I formulated a plan with my entrepreneurial minded son-in-law and a year later in the fall of 2014 we decided to launch our own publishing projects under Cliffhanger Research and Development to start a slow burn in literature that clearly was going to have an impact on future generations. We are aware that the stories we are working on will meet with some resistance, but they wouldn’t be possible through traditional publishing, because the philosophy that drives these stories would not be acceptable. Like the publicity guy from my former publisher, they don’t like traditional stories where heroes are white hat good guys against unmistakable black hat bad guys. Even though this Tail of the Dragon story could be considered a bit of a modern Bonnie and Clyde, the heroes are unmistakable wearing a white hat metaphorically speaking which is how I like my characters. That certainly goes against the grain of modern storytelling—which is OK, because I’m not happy with those methods. I fight against them with every thread of my essence. And that fight comes out in my written work. Of that written work, I am very proud of Tail of the Dragon. It will be always one of my favorites, and I hope that it inspires people the way I intended it to. There is hope in the darkest of hours—and yes, the good guys do win sometimes.



So to read the book again, or for the first time, you will find it at the link above seen with the new cover. Cliffhanger Research and Development proudly presents Tail of the Dragon for your reading pleasure. Forget the seat belt, because you are about to go on a car chase with hundreds of police cars hot on your tail in a car that travels over 200 MPH. Seat belts won’t save you under those conditions, so don’t even bother. You can take that journey now with the simple click of a button. So enjoy the ride!

Rich Hoffman

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