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.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Until Her Darkness Goes by Rana Kelly - a review

Using her underground rock-and-roll journo background Kelly performs a fresh exposé on an old, worn theme, sex, drugs and rock and roll. Not since J. A. Landry’s Fool Star has a rock novel toured so intimately with a band, and simultaneously had the bad juju and foibles of what happens backstage disclosed.
Until Her Darkness Goes takes us on a worldwide tour from the street pub scene of London to the towering skyscrapers of New York’s glitz and introduces us to a new Brit band, Murder of Crows and their star performer, Nick McCallum. Dazzled by the promise of the bright lights of America, Rachel Sullivan, pedigreed American record producer, lets us into the harsh world of rock and roll music, the rise to fame and the crash of reality, and how life on the road ain’t all what it’s cracked up to be.
Strong out-of-the-gate start for this debut novelist marks her as one to watch.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Taconic Murda by Uriel E. Gribetz - a review

Detective Sam Free, and his partner, Frank Cortez, have worked their way up from narcotics to homicide. Cortez was preparing for an early retirement, fueled by monies he had absconded with from crime scenes he’d worked over the years—him, and many other cops in the Fort Apache section of the South Bronx precinct. Free had always stayed away from the temptation of the extra income, and often caught hell from his workmates for his lifestyle; just a small apartment shared with his wife and son in the inner city.
When raiding a suspected murderer’s home, a gun, suspected of being used at a recent triple murder, is seized in the garbage can in the alley behind the house. Free is being pressured into fibbing on the stand by up and coming DA, Celeste Santiago; she wants him to tell jurors that the evidence was found on the suspect’s property. But when Free refuses, he is ostracized by the people he has to work with. So one day he takes a ride up the Taconic highway to a nearby town out in the country, where there is a chance to work for the local sheriff and get out from under the constant stress of his job.
The prices of homes here are too much for his budget; however, an opportunity is dropped at his feet when in a random traffic altercation he has a run-in with a local ‘made man’ and finds his rent collections in a large, black plastic bag—enough to buy the house and move his family out to the country. Deciding to take the plunge, just this one time, Free unknowingly sets in motion circumstances that will find him charged for murder, and being pursued by his former colleagues with only revenge on their minds.
Gribetz, a New York lawyer, drawing on his work experiences, knocks his debut police procedural out of the park.


Silver Cord by Alison Caiola - a review

In the second of her Lily Lockwood series, Caiola has presented us with enough back-story from the initial offering, The Seeds of a Daisy, to make the follow up novel very much a standalone. We catch up with actress Lily as she is being presented with her first Tony Award. Her fame brings her back in to the arms of her former actor flame, Jamie Fleming, with whom she has parented her toddler daughter, Daisy Rose.
Her soulmate, and past lover, physician Robbie Rosen has been off in Africa on a medical mission and not been in close contact for a while, and while Lily knows Jaime is really nothing more than a flame she has gotten lonely. Reality is brought back to her with a jolt when Robbie’s family received a ransom note when it is discovered that he and two other physicians had been kidnapped by Al-Shabaab, a faction of Al Qaeda. The bodies of the others have been located. Lily agrees to fund a mission to rescue him at all costs, including putting her own life on the line by flying to Somalia, while the former CIA agent running the show plans the operation
Caiola takes us into the view point of Robbie and how he is being beaten by his captors and forced to harvest AIDS infested organs to donate to American donors in an act of terrorism. Not knowing help is on the way Robbie is planning his suicide rather than help the terrorists. When two CIA wanted terrorists are seen on drone at the site of the rescue the government steps in, deploys the SEALS, but will the cavalry arrive in time to rescue Robbie and reunite Daisy with her true love?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Corpse in the Cactus by Lonni Lees

Police Detective Maggie Reardon is alone again. Just when she thought she might have found Mr. Right her captain called her in and put the kibosh on the whole kit-and-caboodle. Rocco was, after all, a witness in the murder of the proprietor of the Mosaic Gallery, the case that she just solved.
Sure, she has blown her chance at romance, but Reardon was delighted to find out that Rocco was willing to place a hiatus on their budding romance until the case went to trial. Buoyed with the notion that someone was willing to wait for, her she set out on the next grisly discovery, the body of a man found discovered in the javelina pit at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
Always determined to send waves through the department, the newly minted female detective in the Tucson Police Department challenged the findings of the senior officer on duty, who wrote off the body as an accidental fall. When her leads show they had a victim with no identification, multiple state tag numbers in his trunk and no witnesses, she has her work cut out for her.
By the time she puts together the unidentified body with an apparent runaway, skulking in a cheap south-side motel, she is able to help solve not just a missing persons case but prove the cold-blooded killing of the corpse in the cactus.
Lees’ fact-filled little novellas, featuring Detective Maggie Reardon, are fast becoming a favorite read of mystery fans in the Old Pueblo she features, Tucson, Arizona.

Shadow of Doubt by Nancy Cole Silverman

KCHC, Tinsel town’s own radio station, awash with female broadcasters, made a living out of swapping Hollywood gossip. Not only does cub reporter, Carol Childs, have the ear of a very dishy FBI agent, Eric Landon, her current beau but she also lives next door to Samantha Millhouse, niece of top Hollywood agent, Pepper Millhouse, to whom she owes a lot of her industry leaked stories.
When Sam shows up in tears, announcing that Pepper has been found dead in her bath tub she takes the exclusive story on-air. But when Sam is arrested for the murder of her aunt, and her twin-sister Sarah positions herself to take over the agency and the inheritance, Carol begins to wonder what the real truth is and her investigative search unearths a series of mysterious deaths.
When she is warned by a Hollywood psychic that not only will there be more deaths but that her own life may be in danger, Carol has to find out who was really behind the deaths that are sweeping around the country’s movie making capital.
Silverman does an awesome job of creating multiple red herrings and leaves the reader guessing up to the final page. You’ll think twice before taking that next long soak in a tub after you read this toe-curling thriller.

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