Nice blurb for ED, NOT EDDIE

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Elena Hartwell, author of the forthcoming mystery ONE DEAD, TWO TO GO, wrote a nice blurb for me. Here it is.

“Max Everhart writes a great story with the twists and turns required for a solid mystery, but the home run in Ed, Not Eddie is his ability to craft dynamite characters. From the wisecracking protagonist Eli Sharpe to the walk-on characters with only a single line, Everhart invents a unique voice for everyone. The small town of Cook, South Carolina, and its division III College, are abuzz with the potentially history-making Ed Leviner. But becoming the first woman to pitch for the majors isn’t the only obstacle dogging Ed (never call her Eddie!). First, she has to live through the big game at the school. Hired to find out if the death threats to Ed are real, Eli soon finds himself embroiled in all the complications of a small town. Sex, drugs, corruption, and baseball make their way into a plot that keeps you guessing. If this is your first foray into the Eli Sharpe mystery series, Ed, Not Eddie will have you scrambling to catch up with books one and two.”

—Elena Hartwell, author of the Eddie Shoes Mystery series

Book Review: One Dead, Two to Go by Elena Hartwell

 

Attention mystery fans hungering for the good stuff: One Dead, Two to Go is a full course buffet. Infidelity, murder, and kidnapping are all on the menu, but the main course is Eddie Shoes (great name!), who is an engaging, resourceful, and tough female P.I. Throw in her poker-playing, Mafia-connected, breaking-and-entering mother named Chava and a pot-boiler of a plot, and I finished this book with a full belly, yet starving for more Eddie Shoes adventures. The writing is cinematic and vivid, the characters well-drawn, but the dynamic between Eddie and Chava, which reminded me fondly of Cagney and Lacey, is what makes the story. Fans of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich should definitely check out One Dead, Two to Go. Recommended.

Note: I was given a free copy of this book by Camel Press in exchange for an honest review. One Dead, Two to Go is available for preorder here.

 

Book Giveaway for ED, NOT EDDIE (Eli Sharpe #3)…bribe offered!

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Ed, Not Eddie (Eli Sharpe #3) is now available for pre-order (click here to do so).  So in an effort to get you to order a book several months before it will be shipped to you, I’d like to offer a bribe.  The first (10) people to email me at maxeverhart30@yahoo.com with a proof of purchase for Ed, Not Eddie can choose (1) prize from below. This bribe is good until October 31st, so act now.

Keep in mind that if you’ve already purchased all of the above titles, I can still give them away to a person of your choosing. All I would need is an email address where the recipient can redeem the eBook.

Brass tax time, people. I need to sell a few dozen more copies of my books in order to receive my very first royalty check (fingers crossed). So if you’ve read my books and enjoyed them, pick up Ed, Not Eddie as well, and then give your prize to another lucky reader.

Best,

Max (struggling novelist/frustrated English instructor/misanthrope/

Guest Blog: Robert J. Ray

Robert J. Rayweekend novelist

“Keys to a Dramatic Scene”

The key to the dramatic scene is an intruder penetrating a closed circle. In society, we form a closed circle when we have coffee with a friend, or invite people to lunch, or gang up on the schoolyard. There can be violence—a burglar with a Glock Nine breaking down a door—but the intruder can also be an unwelcome wedding guest crashing the party.

A good example in the mystery game is the Sleuth’s Reward Scene in The Body in the Library, by Agatha Christie—the classical mystery used by Jack Remick and me when we wrote The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery, for Dell. Sleuth’s Reward is a modular scene. The word “modular” tags a scene that crosses sub-genres. In hard-boiled fiction, the sleuth’s reward is money or a kiss blown by an out-of-reach dame. In a Christie tea-cozy, the Sleuth’s Reward is admitting that the killer should die.

Jack Remick and I honed our scene-writing skills teaching in the screen-writing program at the University of Washington, where we developed tools for quick scene-building. One of those tools appears below, the Scene Profile. There, we display a template for creating your own scene profile.

Example: The Scene

Profile

Name: Sleuth’s Reward (The Body in the Library)

Character and Stage: Miss Marple recreates the crime for the last time in Conway Jefferson’s sumptuous suite at the Majestic Hotel.

In attendance: Colonel Melchett, Chief Superintendent Harper, Conway Jefferson, and Sir Henry Clithering.

Closed Circle: Upper World hotel suite.

Intruder: Miss Marple, invited inside because she’s the sleuth who solved the case.

Object onstage: Miss Marple’s best evening gown.

Dialogue‑Monologue: Motive (money, the scarce resource base) and method (knockout drug, strangulation, blow to the head, burning) and luring the victim into the trap.

Action: Using words as building blocks, Miss Marple erects a triumphant rhetorical edifice.

Climax: Miss Marple admits she’ll enjoy seeing Mark Gaskell hang.

Symbol/Theme/Ritual: Restoration of order by a proper recreation of the crime.

Summary of the Scene (Useful for submitting your novel to a publisher):

The place of this Sleuth’s Reward scene is Conway Jefferson’s suite at the Majestic, a room with an ocean view. The time is evening, a day or so after the apprehension and incarceration of the killers, Josie Turner and Mark Gaskell. The sleuth wears her best evening gown. The main dramatic device is a series of connected Marpelian monologues ‑‑ facts, motive, the marriage connection coverup ‑‑ climaxed by a ten step recreation of the crime and the sleuth’s admission that she wants to see Gaskell hang.

Analysis

In this scene, Miss Marple is rewarded by her position in society as sleuth triumphant. She solved the case. She saved Basil Blake from becoming a scapegoat. With shrewd sleuth magic, she saved the Bantrys from losing their social position in high society. The scene drips with a proper restoration of order.

Robert J. Ray is the author of seven novels: Cage of Mirrors, The Heart of the Game, Bloody Murdock, Murdock for Hire, The Hitman Cometh, Dial “M” for Murdock, and Merry Christmas, Murdock. A sixth Matt Murdock mystery—Murdock Tackles Taos—in process.  Ray is also the author of a popular non-fiction series on writing, The Weekend Novelist and he shares writing techniques on writing on his blog co-authored with long time writing partner, Jack Remick. Ray is a native of Texas and holds a PhD from the University of Texas, Austin. Tuesdays and Fridays, he and Jack write at Louisa’s Bakery and Café in Seattle.

 

Guest Blog: Jack Remick, author of TRIO OF LOST SOULS

trio of lost souls coverJack Remick photo

“The Sentence and Me”

When I wrote my first novel, like most writers, I thought books were made up of chapters and chapters were made up of paragraphs. Somewhere between book one and book two, it dawned on me that both chapters and paragraphs are just constructions built with sentences.

Big insight, right? One that everyone except me already knew but it changed the way I thought about writing. The sentence is the basic unit of everything. If you get the sentence right, you get the paragraph right and you get the chapter right.

So after I got the sentence I ran into trouble because the average sentence length in English is 14 words. Boring as hell. Am I doomed to write 14 word sentences for the rest of my life? Being a rebel, I said what happens if you do stuff to the sentence?

You rip it into fragments.

You run it out to a couple of hundred words.

You chop it up into short bursts.

You drop in a few rhetorical devices to make it dance.

The sentence is malleable.

After I buried the 14 word sentence in the cemetery of Useless Averages, I played around with this idea—what if you wrote an entire novel in sentence bursts and then worked the sentence bursts into “paragraphs?” What if you wrote sentences focused on Action and Image? Nobody will know what you’ve done because you’ve got your story in paragraphs. So I took a run at it in a short novel called Pacific Coast Highway. Here are a few “sentences” from that first writing, just as I put them down:

Palos Verdes Estates                                                                                              everything LA is supposed to be
jacaranda in bloom
eucalyptus lined streets that curve up                                                                           and away to white Spanish Neo houses
red tile roofs and wrought iron fences
Peacocks dance their fan dance for you
the smell of the eucalyptus is good for what ails your bank account
Later she tells me about the peacocks
How they were let loose                                                                                                       and took over                                                                                                                      and now perch on rooftops
and how they breed
and how much she loves them
and if anyone killed one of them                                                                                    she’d have him skinned alive
58 Via Campesina is exactly what it should be
A winding, palm-tree lined road
at the edge of a golf course there is a bridle path                                                     where Arabian horses are stabled
and just off the bridle path                                                                                                    a white Moorish castle towers right out of a fairy tale
its own shade of red tile and yard lights that turn the evening yellow

Here is that writing after a dozen rewrites, but now cast into fictional “paragraphs.”

Palos Verdes Estates is everything LA should be—winding hill-side streets lined with eucalyptus trees and jacaranda and on the slopes, neo-Spanish castles built of white brick and red tile roofs that glisten in the sunset melting down over the Pacific Ocean.

When you turn a close curve, peacocks with their rainbow fans screech at you like they own the place.

Later Bea tells me about the peacocks—How someone let them loose and how they took over and now perch on rooftops and how they breed and how much she loves them and how if anyone killed one of them, she’d skin him alive.

I pull into the drive at 58 Via Campesina, a curved drive big enough to hold a herd of German cars. I shut down the mill of the 850 CSi. I hear the birds chittering and the peacocks call and I hear the long slow whine of swimming pool pumps and somewhere, in another universe, a crow caws and for a second I forget who I am and where I am and what I am doing because for just that second I wonder how it would feel to come to a place like that every day with its peacocks on the roof and a swimming pool that hums and inside a woman who wears black and white and drives a big fast powerful rich German machine.

This is a technique I use now in every novel. Forget about writing in paragraphs. Write in sentences with all the variations in rhythm and cadence. Explore the infinite possibilities of the line, then construct those paragraphs using rhetorical devices, or tropes, and your writing will both sing and dance for you. And your readers will be love you for being the genius you are.

Jack Remick believes that writing is like method acting. The writer has to be all the characters. The story isn’t the writer’s creation, but something the characters create through the writer who becomes the chosen instrument for the stream of words. Remick also lives by the principles that the art is in the rewrite and that discipline is the writer’s obligation to the gift. He is a poet, short story writer, and a novelist. He is the father of several critically-acclaimed/award-winning novels and collections of poetry. He’s taught memoir, screenplay and understands Greek rhetoric like nobody’s business. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: DEADLY CATCH by E. Michael Helms

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After a quarter century as a Marine, Mac McClellan needs an extended vacation. And what better place than St. George, a sleepy beach town on the Florida panhandle, to fish, drink beer, and figure out how to spend the second half of his life.

But there’s a problem: McClellan hooks a dead body on his first cast of the trip (talk about a buzz kill!). The body turns out to be a young woman, who has been missing for a while and just so happens to be engaged to a low-level drug dealer in way over his head with the wrong people. McClellan begins investigating a bit, and he soon realizes there is a bigger (and even more dangerous) plot afoot involving drug smuggling, murder, family feuds, political corruption, forbidden romances, and good old-fashion greed. McClellan survived the IED-filled streets of Iraqi, but will he make it out of St. George alive? And stop the bad guys in the process.

Overall, this is an enjoyable mystery with a flawed yet likable lead character in Mac McClellan. He is resourceful, trustworthy, funny, and iconoclastic, all attributes one looks for when starting a new series. And Kate Bell, his feisty girlfriend, is an interesting character, relatable in the best way possible, and I, for one, hope to see more of her in future installments. (I particularly enjoy the scenes where the two of them are working on the case together as they have real chemistry.)

In some instances, however, the author relies too heavily on summary and exposition when, for my money, it would have been nice to see some of that stuff hashed out with “action,” if for no other reason than McClellan is such an engaging character I wanted to watch him operate even more. But still, there is much to praise in this mystery. The first person narration reads as if that cool, former-vet uncle of yours is telling you a whale-of-a-story, and the town of St. George is described so well it actually feels like another character. Too, the author obviously knows his boats and fishing and Marine life, and that attention to detail gives both the narrative and McClellan himself a real air of authenticity, which I greatly appreciated.

Bottom line, I recommend this series to fans of the Spenser series by Robert Parker, and I also see many favorable similarities between Mac McCllelan and Quinn Colson, the Army Ranger turned sheriff character featured in the excellent books by Ace Atkins. I definitely recommend Deadly Catch. I’m already reading Deadly Ruse.