Monday, February 29, 2016

What do mystery writers read? Or do they?

During Left Coast Crime 2016 #LLC2016 I was a little, I was going to say alarmed, but lets cut it down to concerned, to hear comments to the point that as authors we don't read very much anymore; we are too busy writing. Makes you wonder do we read each others books? Mystery writers are very friendly willing to help their fellow writers with advise, marketing ideas, passing on of knowledge etc. but to what avail if we don't stop and smell the book glue?
Doubling duty as a reviewer as well as author, I do read many of my friends books and there are some magnificant books to be consumed. I also feel that even as genre writers we don't need to pigeon-hole our style and should feel the ability to pass on a little literature into our work. I asked some if they had read particular authors that I have made a habit of reading just because they are gosh, just darn good storytellers and was surprised to be met with blank looks.
Now while these authors names may not trip off the tongue as easily as say John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Herman Wouk, Norman Mailer, Daphne du Maurier, Graham Greene, John Le Carre, Stephen King the following as especially worthy of your attention (recommended books in parentheses). Nevil Shute (A Town Like Alice; The Pied Piper; The Chequer Board), Jim Crace (Harvest; Quarantine; The Pest House; All That Follows), Jennifer McMahon (Winter People; Dismantled; Promise Not To Tell), Jo Nesbo (the Harry Hole detective series), David Morrell - pick any you can't go wrong, Paul Cleave (his Theodore Tate detective series), Luis Alberto Urrea (The Hummingbird's Daughter; Queen of America; Into The Beautiful North).
It’s okay to put down the laptop for a little while and get lost in someone else’s world for the moment. It may expand your horizons and expand the grey matter and who knows, improve your writing.

Monday, February 22, 2016

While spending the last three years writing Kettle of Vultures I continued to grow a list of agents or publishers to send my novel to upon completion. Unlike with non-fiction, publishing professionals are generally only interested in fiction after it is completed.
During the years I was writing I also continued to read and review other’s novels for Suspense Magazine and as a Vine reviewer for Amazon. A friend, knowing of my review work, asked me to look at a debut novel that a New York attorney had recently had published. She had written about it, and him, on her blog and since it was a police-procedural thought of me as a way to get him a little more exposure. I was happy to do so.
The novel itself was fine, I was happy to review it and recommend it. A good solid debut crime novel. As I finished it I thought that in comparison mine was at least as good, and so I wondered who his publisher was. Perhaps they would take a chance with Kettle of Vultures.
I approached Moonshine Cove Publishing, and the rest is history. Within a few weeks I had signed a contract and have been preparing the final version of the book and preparing for publication and marketing. There have been back and forward emails as the publishers and I go over all the final edits to be sure the novel is perfect to be read. In the meantime I am preparing to head up the road to Phoenix next weekend to Left Coast Crime, a writer’s gathering, to meet and greet authors I have met and/or reviewed – Suspense Magazine has opened some doors for that would not have been available with that type of exposure. I have ordered copies of both novels to available for Tucson Festival of Books on March 12-13, just a short few weeks away.
I am also ready to launch a social media blitz to go along with Kettle of Vultures being released starting with a review in the March issue of Suspense Magazine and a blog-radio interview with Blondie and The Brit. I have prepared a Pinterest page that visually explores some of the images I talk about in the novel to give readers a new dimension in the reading process.
Hope you will tag along on line, buy a copy online when it becomes available, or for those of you in Arizona come check me out at the festival in March. You will have two opportunities to buy an autographed copy of Kettle of Vultures 1) at the West Pavilion on Sunday the 13th between 10AM to noon 2) at the Mostly Books location at 2PM. I’ll be looking for you so come find me.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

News from Moore, Oklahoma!

My nine-year old granddaughter, Chebri Sadler began her illustrious quest to be poet laureate of Oklahoma with the grand prize in Poetry!

Autumn Is Here

by Chebri Sadler

As the wind blows
The leaves shake
I love the pie my Mom loves to bake

As the wind makes it cool ever day
Here comes Spring
In the middle of May

I always lift my head to say
"Wow! What a wonderful time it was today!"

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

My Journey Through War and Peace by Melissa Burch - a review

Journaling as a way of writing memoir has proven very successful for Burch in this debut offering. All but the last few pages, the recapping of what you read, are written during her early twenties, at a time when she struggled with home life. A difficult relationship with her father and her mother's plunge into alcoholism led Burch to strike out on her own, running from her struggles and desperately searching for meaning in her life.
Her journey as a war photographer in the battle fields of Afghanistan during the Russian invasion may have been more of an outreach than the average twenty-two year old, let alone a young lady, would tackle but she does and with success, in fact going back in a return tour of duty. In that segment of her life she endures and enjoys a eye-opening endeavor and takes on a strength unlike most of her age. No wall-flower status at all.
Her continued forays in the world of film and personal relationships, her grasping for a spiritual life she her take on physical relationships and additional hardships while filming in Soviet Russia all while looking for an independence and a reliance on a spiritualism that is always almost in her grasp.
By sharing space in her younger years, and hinting at a future as yet undocumented, Burch takes us along on some of the formative times of her life and leaves us asking for the next chapter.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell - a review

I am very familiar with Mr. Morrell's work having read his work, followed the advice in his books on how to write and have had the pleasure of meeting him on a couple of occasions. His work never disappoints. His research is meticulous. With Inspector of the dead he has raised the game to a new level, writing in the style of Victorian England as well as about that time period. His Thomas De Quincey has a Sherlock Holmes quality to him - that character having been written in the 1920's - even though De Quincey precedes the Holmes era by a couple of decades - all in all I'm saying that the writing is elevated to a Conan Doyle level, allowing an already fine novelist to be ranked with those whose names we speak in literature a century later.

In this story line De Quincey and his daughter Emma, assist the local British constabulary in protecting Queen Victoria from one of several attempts on her life during a time when the British economy was being afflicted by the Crimea war. Pulling from actual historical facts, and using the political characters of the day, Morrell weaves a story for the ages and I hope that he continues in this Victorian vein as I am hooked again, as I am on every other series Morrell wrote.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

I get a publishing contract!

I learned seven years ago the struggle it takes as a new author to attempt to get published. I felt, as I am sure most new authors do, that I had written something worthy, interesting and valuable. The reviews I have posted here on my webpage for Blood on His Hands show others thought similarly. It was the inability to attract an agent to help get me published that caused me to self-publish. Once I figured it was going to take longer than the three years it took to write the book to find representation I ran out of patience and self-published.

I also didn’t expect it to take seven years for me to have the next book up and ready to go. Since I am not a full-time writer, I have to cram all my writing into hours after work and on weekends. I also engaged in loads of physical research to ensure authenticity and credibility for my readers. I was unsure whether I should start the self-publishing again or begin the tedious search for an agent all over again. Luckily somethings have changed in the publishing world over the last decade.

The major change has been the emergence of cheap self-publishing through Amazon and the emergence of a plethora of indie publishers. These smaller publishing houses allow direct contact. A writer does not need an agent to be considered for publication. Research is still necessary in order to find a like-mined company that will print your book, and so I began my research while finishing up the final editing process of the novel.

Ever since Blood on His Hands has been in print I have formed a relationship with Suspense Magazine. They gave me a great review and also asked if I would be available to review novels for their online publication as they liked my style. I saw this as one way to keep my name in the public eye while working on my next project and so agreed. I reviewed, interviewed and contributed several articles over the last few years. In that process they established a publishing house, Suspense Publishing, and since my next novel is a suspense, thriller, noir police-procedural type of style it was mutually assured that when it came down to publishing I would have a home. Shannon Raab, the publisher was always helpful, helped with some editing, advised why some parts of the writing just didn’t fit with the type of reader they were trying to reach, and encouraging when I made some hard editorial changes to meet her criteria. Still, it felt off. With the help of a book doctor, the fabulous, Mary Martha Miles, I again made some stringent changes and cuts and finally discovered a path I could finish the novel with. It had become apparent to me however that my novel was a square peg trying to be forced into Suspense Magazine’s round hole. After some soul-searching we came to a mutual decision that I needed to shop my book to another indie published. I had recently reviewed a debut novel, a decent police-procedural that I gave good marks for but felt like it wasn’t as good as what I had written, so I looked into the published and discovered Moonshine Cove Publishers. With nothing to lose, and with all expectations of having to look around for another fifty or more indie publishers, (I had three others in process of submitting to as well), I sent the query letter, marketing ideas and the first ten pages. Their website said ‘wait six to eight weeks’ for a response. If they wanted to see more of the novel they would reach out at that time. A week later they asked for the rest of the book and within ten days I signed a publishing contract. What does that mean? It means I do not have to pay up front to have a company print my books. It means I have a support staff to help with the difficult questions. It also means that I have to wait until March 7, 2016 before I can release Kettle of Vultures for you to order. It’s like being in an airplane on the runway. I’m taxing ready for take- off while several others get to blast off ahead of me. It means patience and it means I can continue to work on the second book in the trilogy.

There will be several steps along the way to final publication and I will update you as they transpire. You will find out at the same time as I do what happens next, and learn with me the world of indie publishing, I am very happy to be at this point in my writing life and look forward to providing you with a story you won’t be able to put down.

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