GO GO GATO: one week and counting. . .

My debut novel GO GO GATO is scheduled for release in one week, on August 1st, and I wanted to say a quick word about marketing/self-promotion.

And the word is this: tough.

It’s tough when you are an introvert and you want to be writer.  I mean, you want people to read your work, and you think your writing is good and people might be entertained by it, but at the same time, you do not want to annoy/pester/piss them off by constantly posting things on Twitter and FB or emailing them asking for favors like writing reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and everywhere else. But alas, that’s part of the gig these days, which, really, I don’t mind doing because I love books so much.  In fact, the only reason I write at all is because I want to toss in my dash of spice to the great big wonderful stew known as Literature. (Did you see what I did there, with the metaphor thingie? How could you not want to read my book?!?)

Anyway, with that said, I would like to pre-thank any and all who have pre-ordered my book. No kidding, it means a lot to me, and I hope you enjoy reading it half as much as I enjoyed banging my head on the desk writing it (seriously, I did/do/will continue to do that. I have issues. Enough said.) I would also like to ask a small favor: after you read my book, if you would post an honest review on Amazon and Goodreads, I would be forever grateful. The review need not be lengthy. Even three or four sentences is a big help, especially if you actually liked the darn thing. Indie and Small Press authors like myself rely on reviews and word of mouth to gain a wider audience, so again, I say thanks in advance.

One more thing: I’m trying out a bit of a catchphrase/motto regarding marketing and my book.  Here it is: If you like it, tell a friend. If you hate it, tell an enemy. (Come on, I’m funny, right? Read my book!)

http://www.amazon.com/Gato-Eli-Sharpe-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B00M179URO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406297416&sr=8-1&keywords=go+go+gato

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Book Review of THE SETUP MAN by T. T. Monday

Okay, so Johnny Adcock, a relief pitcher for the San Jose Bay Dogs and part-time private investigator, is a bit of a jerk.

And he is a millionaire with what amounts to two incredibly cool part-time jobs that pay more in a month than I make in a decade.

And he has a whip-smart and sexy girlfriend who is a venture capitalist and requires nothing more from Johnny than casual sex and witty banter.

And he travels all over the country, playing the greatest sport known to man and staying in plush hotels, and when he isn’t facing his one batter per game–note: that’s what a “set up man” in the bullpen does–he’s chasing down high-end prostitutes and fighting off Mexican gangsters and setting up stings.

Not a bad life, if you can get it.

Yeah, I’m jealous, for Johnny Adcock has the top two jobs on my All-Time Dream Jobs List: Major League ballplayer and private investigator.

In THE SET UP MAN, Adcock is asked by his teammate Frankie Herrera to look into a “problem with his wife.” Pretty standard stuff, until Adcock discovers Herrera’s wife has starred in a porn film, and apparently, someone is attempting to blackmail Herrera with it. As soon as Herrera enlists Adcock’s help, Herrera dies in a car crash. . .and there’s a woman in the car with him: a young prostitute.  From there, Adcock gets drawn into a ring of murder, high-end hookers, Mexican drug cartels, and blackmail. And it’s all fun.

Bottom line, this is a page turner, and even if you don’t know about or like baseball, you’ll get sucked into the narrative because of the sarcastic lead character, good dialogue, and fast-paced plot. Highly recommended.

http://www.amazon.com/Setup-Man-Novel-T-Monday-ebook/dp/B00F8F7MRQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406296303&sr=8-1&keywords=the+set+up+man

the set up man cover

Interview with James L. Thane, author of UNTIL DEATH

Why do you write?

THANE: Well to be honest (and I assume that I have to be honest here), I need the money and I’d rather write than have to go out and look for a real job. I’ve had several, most of which required getting up at a reasonable hour of the morning, keeping my boss happy and doing a lot of other such things that I’m really not very good at. Writing allows me to stay up until all hours of the night or early morning, sleep in as late as I like, and get into the office whenever I please. I also like the fact that the office is steps away from my bedroom and close to the refrigerator. I have no commute, no dress code and no boss. On top of all of that, I love to write and can’t imagine anything else that I’d rather do for a living.

When do you write?

THANE: I don’t have an absolutely fixed schedule. I like to get all the boring parts of my day out of the way first so that they aren’t hanging over my head while I’m trying to write. So I usually get up, exercise, read the papers, run any errands that need running and take care of any household chores that have to be done. By then it’s usually time for lunch, after which I can head into my study and write with a clear conscience. I usually get there around 1:00 or so and will work until around 6:00, if I’m eating dinner at home. Then I’ll go back to work for a while after dinner. My preference, though, is to work until 7:00 or 7:30, then go out for a light dinner, preferably someplace where I can have a couple of drinks and listen to some music. I’ll read for a while before I go to sleep and then start all over the next day.

Where do you write?

THANE: I live most of the year in Arizona, and when I’m there I write in my study at home. I’ve never been one of those people who could write in a coffee house or a café or some other place where there are a lot of distractions. I need the peace and quiet of a room where I can close the door, seal myself off and concentrate on the work. Unlike a lot of other authors, I can’t even listen to music when I write. I do spend three months a year on a lake in northwestern Montana. There I also have a room where I can write, but I also have a table in a gazebo in the woods overlooking the lake. I’ll often take my laptop down there and write, even though I know I’ll occasionally be distracted by the beautiful view or the occasional passing boat. This is the spot:

 

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What do you write?

THANE: I’ve written both fiction and non-fiction, but I’ve now settled into writing crime fiction almost exclusively. I’m currently doing a series set in Phoenix, Arizona, featuring a homicide detective named Sean Richardson. The first book in the series is No Place to Die, and the second, which has been out for six months now, is Until Death. I’ve just finished a stand-alone suspense novel, tentatively titled Picture Me Gone, and am now working on the third Sean Richardson book, which I hope to finish while in Montana this summer.

How do you write?

THANE: Pretty much on the fly. I start with a very vague idea and then write the story chapter by chapter with no idea where the book is going from one day to the next, at least early on. I’ve tried outlining but it simply doesn’t work for me; I have to let a story unfold at its own pace. Usually, by the time I’m about a third of the way in, I’ll suddenly realize how the book is going to end without really having consciously thought about it. Then the job at hand is to get from where I am at that point to the conclusion that’s presented itself. This may also involve a fair amount of re-writing to make what I’ve done already fit the conclusion I’ve decided upon.

Since I don’t know where the book is going, I can’t really do much research in advance, and so part of my process involves doing whatever research is necessary as I go along. Of course the downside to working this way is that occasionally a book will simply stall out and what seemed like an excellent idea winds up going nowhere. I have several efforts lying dormant on my hard drive that ran out of gas after about 15,000 words or so.

Tell me about your previous books and where they can be found.

THANE: I have a non-fiction book that is now out of print and can only be found in used bookstores and on the Internet. Occasionally a copy pops up on E-Bay with the seller asking what seems like a totally irrational price. I don’t know what these used copies actually sell for, but it does sometimes lead me to think about the fifteen or twenty pristine copies I still have in a box in my closet. Otherwise, the other two books are available in a variety of editions on Amazon and at other on-line sites. I know that copies are still available at a number of bookstores, but it’s always difficult knowing which ones will have them in stock at any given moment.

Tell me what you’re currently working on.

THANE: As I suggested above, I’m currently finishing up the third Sean Richardson novel which I’m calling Fatal Blow. It begins when a woman accidentally discovers evidence of her husband’s infidelity. Shortly thereafter, he reports her missing, and a few days later a female torso is discovered floating lazily down a Phoenix canal. When it’s identified as the missing woman, Richardson and his partner, Maggie McClinton, have to figure out who’s responsible for beheading the woman and pitching her into the canal. As is usual in a book like this, complications ensue.

Tell me something funny.

THANE: A couple of nights ago, I went to see Megan Abbot and Jeff Abbot, who are not related but who are touring together in support of their new books. It was a great event and later Harlan Coben was teasing Megan on Twitter about touring with Jeff. She responded as only Megan would by saying, “But first rule of book tour: Bring your own bail money,” which stuck me not only as very funny but also as excellent advice for any writer going on tour.

To learn more about this author, visit his website:

http://www.jameslthane.com

 

 

 

Book Review of UNTIL DEATH by James L. Thane

Tomorrow, I’m posting an interview with James L. Thane, so I thought I’d repost my review of his excellent police procedural UNTIL DEATH featuring Detective Sean Richardson. I’ve also read and enjoyed the first book in this series entitled NO PLACE TO DIE. Check them both out.

Review

Imagine you’re a top-shelf “escort,” and some whack-job gets a hold of your day planner and starts offing your clientele, one by one. What do you do?

In Until Death, Sean Richardson, a Phoenix homicide detective, is tasked with investigating a series of murders that seem, at first, to be unrelated. But then Gina Gallagher, an off-the-charts-beautiful call girl, comes into the police station and drops a bombshell: the recent homicide victims were all her clients. And her day planner, which contains the names of all her clients, has gone missing. From there, Richardson works the clues, and they lead him on a goose chase involving the men in Gallagher’s life: a lawyer who turns out to have installed a secret camera in her apartment, an ex-boyfriend who takes pictures of her a la a peeping tom, and a host of other johns/well-heeled businessmen with money and motives to spare.  Like in any good mystery, practically everyone has a motive, whether it be jealousy, revenge, or just general creepiness, and it takes a while–perhaps too long, in my opinion–for Richardson to sort through the motives and alibis and solve the case. However, in the end, he does, and the penultimate scene is dripping with tension and drama and well worth the wait.

For me, the women in this novel are what elevate Until Death above the many, many police procedurals lining the bookshelves.  Gina Gallagher, a high-end escort/personal trainer, is anything but a stereotypical call girl. She is pragmatic and a calculating business woman, but at the same time she has a heart and a brain. Nancy Ballard, the grieving wife of the first homicide victim, is also interesting. I don’t want to spoil the plot, but Thane does an excellent job of shifting the narration between Sean Richardson, the lead homicide detective on the case, and Ballard, who plays a significant role in the case’s conclusion. From a reader’s standpoint, I think that Thane captured the voice of an angry, grieving, and vengeful widow very well, and he does so without slowing down the pace of the narrative, which is paramount in a police procedural. While Gallagher and Ballard were certainly well-drawn, I most say I found Maggie McClinton, Richardson’s partner, to be the most compelling character in the entire book. She is foul-mouthed, tough, and capable, and I am hoping to see much more of her in future novels.

Bottom line, this is a solid, highly-readable book, and I look forward to the next in the series. In the meantime, I will go back and read No Place to Die, the first in the series.

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http://www.amazon.com/Until-Death-James-L-Thane/dp/1477849467

3 Patience Exercises to Help You Finish Writing Your Novel

More than anything, a writer needs to be patient in order to succeed. Far too often, we get frustrated and step away from the computer/typewriter and never go back. We write 2,000 words, or 10,000, or 30,000, and then get stuck. Sometimes we get bogged down with details, or research, or voice, or plot. But whatever the reason, we just can’t seem to see the project through to completion. I should know, for I wrote in the neighborhood of 100,000 words before I finally finished (not published) my first novel, which wasn’t worth using as a coaster let alone as a form of entertainment.

Which leads me to some simple but albeit odd exercises I did (and do) in between writing sessions that helped me finish writing Go Go Gato. These exercises helped me become more patient and deal with the general stresses of life a whole lot better.
1) Stand in long lines. Whenever I go to the grocery store or post office, I deliberately join the longest line. While standing there, I slow my breathing, clear my mind, and focus on a spot on the wall like a colorful poster or a window. As I stare at the spot, in my mind I repeat the mantra that calms me down: “Patience is a virtue.” After several seconds, my blood pressure slows, and I begin to notice the other people in line muttering to themselves and frantically checking their watches. Funnily enough, the more I did this the easier it was to endure the daily frustrations of writing a novel.

2) Don’t pass slow cars. When I drive on the highway, for instance, and a car in front of me is going well below the speed limit, I do not tailgate or honk. Instead, I take a deep breath, slow down, and maintain at least a two-car length distance. As I drive, in my head I calculate just how many minutes I would save if I passed the slow car. Usually, the amount of time saved is very small. This exercise also proved helpful to my writing process as I often have to slow down my breathing and my racing mind to hit my daily word count target.

3) Listen without interrupting. When I listen to other people talk, instead of allowing my mind to fill up with what I want to say next, I clear out the words and images pinballing around in my brain and focus on the speaker’s words. I do not interrupt the speaker; I wait until he or she has finished talking, I count to three, and then I respond to what was said. I have noticed I retain a lot more of the information that was said since I’ve begun doing this exercise, and I have also noticed I enjoy my conversations more. Too, when I do not interrupt people, they are far more likely to say something interesting since they are confident that I am giving them my full attention. Likewise, when my characters are speaking I do not interrupt them. I let them speak—at length, if needs be. That’s when they’re more apt to say (or do) something interesting.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has a tip for staying patient while writing.

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A SUNDAY IN ALPHABET LAND, my new crime thriller!

I finished a first draft of my new crime novel entitled A Sunday in Alphabet Land.  After the initial pass, this book clocks in at 52,000 words, and I’m pretty excited about going through and making it really sing.  As is, it moves at a break-neck pace, has memorable characters, and a gritty setting.  Too, it touches on many relevant themes–good versus evil and political corruption to name but a few–and I plan on sending out queries to agents within the month. Here is my elevator pitch for A Sunday in Alphabet Land: 

Alphabet Land was once a thriving neighborhood, but lately, it has gone to the dogs. And Luke Bump, a sadistic bar owner and drug peddler, has a death grip on the leash.

With ambitions of moving his operations to the north side of town, Bump orders a black kid named Crispy to rob Rebel Pig BBQ, a popular joint in Alphabet Land that happens to sit on a prime piece of real estate. Crispy makes off with $66,000 in cash, but not before shooting the owner, a grizzled old vet named Robert Leviner, who doesn’t trust banks or the IRS. Unable to go to the cops, Leviner turns to a neighborhood legend for help. Enter the Rook, an ex-convict turned “problem-solver” who plays chess, builds custom coffins, and carries a .45 Chief’s Special to get justice. . . his way. The Rook soon discovers this is much more than just a simple robbery, and the evidence leads him deeper into the underbelly of Alphabet Land. Within a single twenty-four hour span, the Rook must deal with a corrupt cop, a Machiavellian mayor, a tough-as-nails journalist, a duplicitous hooker, and a serial arsonist. . .all without getting himself killed or arrested. The very fate of Alphabet Land depends on the Rook’s success, and he will stop at nothing to reclaim his neighborhood from Luke Bump—and the sinister forces of money and power backing his play.

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Interview with M. Ruth Myers, author of DON’T DARE A DAME, Finalist for the Shamus Award

Why do you write?

MYERS: I write because I have to. It’s too painful not to. Writing is who I am – which I don’t think is especially healthy. Even when I want to tear my hair out because my scene or pacing isn’t working, I’d rather write a book than win the lottery.

When do you write?

MYERS: Whenever I can. At some points in my life I was able to keep a regular schedule of six hours a day, five days a week. Right now I count myself lucky to get in 15 hours a week. Real life has a rotten way of making demands.

Where do you write?

MYERS: I’ve always been fortunate to have a private writing space. In Nebraska, it was an unheated attic that was freezing in winter & broiling in summer. Mostly I’ve had an actual, civilized room. In my current study, as well as the previous one, I enjoy the utter hedonism of wall of bookshelves.

For some time now, I’ve written my novels on a laptop computer that is not connected to anything else. I step over to the desktop computer with printer and internet connections for all other purposes. Somehow I like the magic of the novels not sharing bytes or electrons or whatever with other work.

What do you write?

MYERS: I write the Maggie Sullivan mysteries, a series featuring a woman private eye with great legs who keeps a gin bottle in her desk and a Smith & Wesson under her seat. The series follows her, and the city of Dayton, OH, from the waning years of the Great Depression through the end of WWII. I’ve also written books that aren’t in the series, and will probably be a repeat offender.

How do you write?

MYERS: I’m a plodder and a plotter. I like to have a sense of my opening scene and my climax scene before I write the first word. In addition, I need to have some key plot points in between so I know the book will really hang together. I may throw some out and add others, but that’s how it starts. Then I use index cards and a flow chart to check the flow of the story and test for rising and falling action. It sounds more anal than it really is. There’s plenty of room for spontaneity.

Tell me about your books and where they can be found.

MYERS: I did nine books with New York houses. The last, a thriller titled (not by me) A TOUCH OF MAGIC, is the only one I’ve reissued as an ebook. I hope to bring out my first novel, which was classic romantic suspense, as an ebook within the year. In between were assorted types which are out of print but available used from various sources.

Tell me what you’re working on.

MYERS: I’m currently working on the fourth Maggie Sullivan. It starts with hanky-panky with jewelry in a hotel safe, but quickly leads to murder and attempted murder. Maggie wouldn’t mind getting through a case without broken ribs or stitches somewhere, but we’ll have to see.

Tell me something funny.

MYERS: I’d love to, but I broke my funny-bone tripping over a misplaced comma.

BIO:

My first novel, a romantic-suspense novel set in Peru, was published by Coward, McCann & Geoghegan in 1979. Since then I’ve had more than a dozen novels published in assorted genres. They’ve been translated into various languages, optioned for film and condensed for magazine publication.

Early on, I wanted to write more mysteries, specifically a series with a woman P.I. The traditional publishers I worked for kept telling me there just wasn’t enough market for that sort of book. Finally I took a long break from fiction writing. Then I decided to do the Maggie Sullivan mysteries. On my own. I’ve never regretted it.

I was born in Warrensburg, MO, moved to Cheyenne, WY, with my mother and grandmother when I was eight, and returned to Missouri to earn a bachelor of journalism degree from the University of Missouri. Prior to novel writing, I was a reporter for city dailies in Michigan and Ohio.

My infinitely patient husband and I live in Ohio, and we have one grown daughter.

M. Ruth Myers
author of the Maggie Sullivan mysteries & other novels

 

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Review of DON’T DARE A DAME by M. Ruth Myers

On M. Ruth Myers’ website, the author claims her books have “strong women–small guns–smart dialogue.”  And Don’t Dare a Dame, the third book in the Maggie Sullivan detective series, makes good on those claims.  And then some.

Set during the Depression Era in Dayton, Ohio, Don’t Dare a Dame starts off in classic P.I. form with Maggie Sullivan taking a seemingly dead-end case. The Vanhorn Sisters, two sweet spinsters, one of them blind, hire Maggie to look into the disappearance of their father, who vanished some quarter of century ago during the Great Flood of 1913.  The investigation immediately turns deadly when the Vanhorn’s stepfather–and Maggie’s chief suspect–commits suicide, and then she gets hauled before the Chief of Police for asking too many questions. From there, the pot really begins to boil as Maggie discovers that the Vanhorn sisters’ suspicions are justified: their father was, indeed, murdered; the only question is: who is the killer?  But before Maggie can identify the killer and bring justice to the Vanhorn’s, her P.I. license, her livelihood, and her life will be put at risk.

Myers definitely makes good on the “strong women” in this novel, especially the protagonist Maggie Sullivan.  Tough and pretty with a smart mouth and a strong moral compass, Sullivan is a “dame” a reader can root for.  This is the passage in chapter one that really sold me on this character when Sullivan takes a bully down:

I hated to persuade him, but Neal seemed like one of those guys who needed taking down a peg or two. I gave him a quick little kitten jab in the snoot. Not enough to break it, just enough to start blood gushing down to his chin and get his attention. . .’Don’t drip on the rug on your way out,’ I said.

Now that’s my kind of detective, but if you remain unconvinced of her toughness, here’s a great exchange between Sullivan and one of her operatives after she’s caught a beating herself:

“Holy smokes, Sis! Someone roughed you up bad.”

“Yeah, but I shot him,” I said to allay his dismay. ..

“Was it Cy Warren’s mugs did it?”

“Nah,” I lied. “Some girls have a fan club. The one they started for me is people lining up to break my nose.”

But it’s not only Sullivan’s toughness and sharp tongue that make this an enjoyable read. It’s also the setting. The descriptions of the area, the secondary characters and how they act, speak, and think, and the police procedural aspects of the novel: all of these elements are authentic and highly readable. And when you add those elements with a formidable lead character and a page-turning plot, it all adds up to a great mystery.

Maggie Sullivan is in the running for my favorite new P.I. series, and I’ve already downloaded Tough Cookie to my Kindle. Don’t Dare a Dame, which was recently nominated for the Shamus Award for Best Indie P.I. novel,has everything working for it. Go buy it. You will not be sorry.

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http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Dare-Maggie-Sullivan-mysteries-ebook/dp/B00GJQEGO0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1404217688&sr=8-1&keywords=don%27t+dare+a+dame