Monday, June 26, 2017

Robbery in the Back of Beyond

I was out and about in the world yesterday... Okay, I was out fishing... when I stopped at my favorite bait shop.  It's a little place in the middle of nowhere, near the entrance to a state park.  The two gals that work there are nice, salt of the earth people.  And I chat with them when I'm there. 

The older of the two ladies was working.  And we happened to get on the topic of crime. 

You see, I had picked up a box of worms ($3) and a beverage.  I asked her if the beverage was under $2 because I only had a five with me.  After she assured me I was fine, I explained that I never carry more than my driver's license and a little cash because I don't feel safe leaving my purse in the car while I'm fishing.  She nodded her head and told me she understood because her home had recently been broken into.

In a tiny town in the back of beyond, her home where she'd lived for 30 years without ever worrying about locking her doors had been robbed.

The thieves didn't get much.  She doesn't have much.  She works in a goddamn bait store for petesakes.  They took mostly things she wasn't attached to - which she will still have to pay money to replace - and a few items that were irreplaceable.  Heirlooms.  Memories.  The ring her husband, who had since passed on, purchased for her 50 years ago.  An item that had been her grandmother's.  (She's easily in her 70s, so you can imagine how old that was.)  A dish full of candy that she keeps on a counter for when her grandchildren visit. 

I'd say it was a sign of the times, and perhaps it is, but my family's home was broken into back in 1976.  We lived in the middle of nowhere, too.  Farther away from other people than my acquaintance here.  And of all the things those assholes back then took, the things I think my mother misses most are the heirlooms. 

I think the impetus was the same in either case - things the thieves could turn into money for drugs.  Little things.  Unimportant items in the scheme of things.  But extremely important things to the individuals who owned them. 

Now, I do know some people who insist that if drugs were legalized, crimes of this nature would cease.  I don't agree.  Whether the drugs cost $100 or $20, the people doing the drugs would still need money to pay for them, and since doing drugs leads to an inability to do quality, dependable work, which leads to unemployment, then the drug users would still need to steal to fund their habit.  :shrug:

I don't know.  I know this incident makes me sad.  She's a lovely person, minding her own business, and working to supplement whatever income she has (I assume).  And these silly, stupid motherfuckers break into her house to take her belongings.  

On the upside, she relayed the whole story to me without an ounce of feeling sorry for herself and without the rage I know I'd be feeling.  Like I said, she's a nice person.  I'd be ranting to anyone who would listen.  I'd want blood. 

I left, wishing her luck in the apprehension of the robbers and offering a hope that she gets her stuff back.  We both knew that's unlikely.  They never caught the people who robbed us back in 1976.  The police here aren't any better or worse than those back then, but the obstacles are the same.  Petty crime, small items...

And I came home glad I live here instead of there - even if it's only a few miles difference.  Oh, I know it could easily happen here.  Which is why we lock our doors even when we're home, even if we're just going into the back yard.  Always.  Sad that we have to do that because other people can't keep their hands to themselves.  =o\


Friday, June 23, 2017

And Other Stuff

I said I'd post the new cover of In Deep Wish when I got it, and I did - just not here yet.  So here it is...
It looks even better when you see them all together:


(Yes, it's off center.  That's because it the banner for my Once Upon a Djinn page on FB.)

If you like what you see and you're in the market for a cover artist, those are by the most wonderful Jessica Allain of Enchanted Whispers.  I can't wait to see the next one, which will be red and that's all I can tell you about that right now.

In further news, I got a note from my editor yesterday saying she wouldn't be able to get to Wish Hits the Fan until July 10th because she's in the middle of edits for another customer. Yay for her!  She rocks as an editor and I'm totally excited she's getting more business.  And a little Yay for me, too.  Now I have 10 more days to get this sucker into a less craptastic state.  Still looking at a September launch date. 

Which made me almost laze out last night, but I slapped myself around and edited another 15 pages.  I'll still have this pass done by the end of the weekend.  And I'll use the extra time for polishing, so it's as clean as I can make it before JC gets it. 

And that's it for me.  For now. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Further News and Excitement

I told y'all I contacted my cover artist on Monday.  She contacted me back and she's available.  Already she's sent me a new print cover for In Deep Wish to approve.  Bing bang boom.  (But I'm not sharing it yet.  It's approved but I'm waiting on the ebook jpeg.)

We've also been back and forth discussing ideas for the WHTF cover.  If it turns out anything like what I have in my head, it'll be awesome.  Obviously, not sharing any of that yet either.

Umm, yeah... I'm a teaser.  I'm just so excited I can't NOT talk about it. 

It feels good to be excited about this again.  After months of anti-excited about anything writerly, I'm actually sitting down and working every day.  I'm still not burning up the road, but I'm motoring along.  As of last night, I've edited through pg 109. 

And I'm excited about what I'm reading as I edit.  It's good stuff, folks, if I do say so myself.  Not perfect stuff.  JC stills needs to get her awesome little hands on it and make me make it better.  But I feel good about it now. 

I'm excited.

To that end, I hope this will help all y'all get excited about it, too...



Wish Hits the Fan
Chapter One

What in the name of Uncle Hank is it now?
Just when I thought I could maybe sorta kinda take a freakin’ break, Trygvyr was requesting my presence at the back of the warehouse.  I gazed around the place as if seeing it for the first time.  Not much more than an hour had passed since my allies had come in and kicked Efreet ass.  While they were doing that, I was battling my own father for familial fun.  They’d won.  I’d won.  It was over.
I gave myself a good chuckle over that one and then motioned toward the damaged girl genie who’d been sent to fetch me.  It wouldn’t be over until I was taking the big dirt nap.  And being a djinn meant there were few things that could put me six feet under.
As Raye guided me toward the growing kerfluffle, I could tell we were headed for the cages I’d seen when I entered only a few short hours before.  I’d snuck inside to save my friends from the Efreet, so it wasn’t like I had a boatload of time to check out the contents of those cages.  In fact, I’d forgotten clean about them. 
Until Raye rushed up claiming some sort of things had been found back there.  Maybe if I hadn’t been transformed into a mouse at the time, I would’ve sensed what those cages held.  I guess what Robert Burns wrote was true, the best laid plans of mice really do often go awry in some way or another. 
I mean, the original mouse plan had worked.  It got me inside undetected by everyone but my former dog.  Then we had defeated the Efreet.  And my friends were freed.  And I’d kept Zeke from going over to the shady side of the street, even if he did end up turning human in the process.  Plus, my dog was back to being my tall, blond Viking friend, Trygvyr, again. 
Now?  The after-victory party was iffy.  Some of the people we’d saved were pissed.  The biggest, baddest of the baddies had gotten away.  And something freaktastic was awaiting me in the dim recesses of the expanse strung all over with medieval cages designed to hold even the strongest magical beings.  After all I’d been through, I really would’ve preferred a nice, long nap somewhere warm and comfortable.  Instead, I had more bullshit to deal with.
I pushed past Renee after we reached the cages where my lawyer, Michael, and Hans the bodyguard had been held prisoner by the Efreet menace.  Across from those was the one imprisoning my receptionist, Renee, while the evil bastards had visited unimaginable horrors upon her.  She’d been pretty bad off, but she’d recovered well.  That she had retained her sanity was a miracle, but I could sense the scars she bore.  Not for the first time, I wished we still an our in-house therapist.  Even that traitor Mena would’ve been better than no one at all to help my friend through this. 
The sounds of Raye’s footsteps behind me reminded me that maybe no therapy would’ve been better for her than the half-ass shit Mena had done.  When I’d discovered Raye amongst the refugees from Mayweather Antiquities the night Amun attacked my home, she’d been wrecked at the abusive hands of her Master.  The amount of time she’d spent at our facilities without any progress in her welfare should’ve been a big clue for me about Mena, but finding out she was a traitor had been a slap in the face.  How many people had paid for my ignorance, I had no idea.  How many more would pay remained to be seen.
Either way, it sucked.
I stopped abruptly.  I could hear Raye bring up the rear, but while I was lost in thought, I’d lost track of the sounds in front of me.  Silence may be golden in some cases, but right then it scared the shit out of me.
“Which way?” I asked the girl.
She pointed as she stopped beside me. 
“Lead on, McDuff.”
“Lay.  It’s ‘lay on, McDuff’.”
“I don’t care if it’s ‘lay off the McDonalds’.  You go, I’ll follow.”
She blushed and then took the lead again, this time at a slower pace than I wanted, but I had to deal with it.  The poor girl paused and cringed at a cage I remembered well.  It smelled of water and death.  Natalia, the Rusalka, had been imprisoned inside for longer than I wanted to imagine.  Now, she was off somewhere giving some of her own back to one Efreet in particular.  As horrible as they’d been, I didn’t want to think about what her gentle ministrations would entail. 
Well, maybe a little.  Payback is hell, or so they say.
When Raye stopped again, I knew we’d reached the place.  I’d been correct in my assumption.  These were the cages I hadn’t wanted to remember  After my friends transformed me into a mouse to get into the building, I’d scurried past these cages first.  I’d been horrified then.  Dozens and dozens of cages hung suspended from the ceiling at varying levels. Within each, I could make out a single form. Some of the forms were still bipedal, but some were beasts. Or monsters. Or, in one case, a sick combination of man and monster. I think I screamed. All that came out was a shrill squeak I figured only dogs could hear.
“Why haven’t these people been released yet?” I shouted above my growing dread.
“Oy, love, no need to break the eardrums.  We’re right here.” Basil Hadresham had shunned his day-to-day business disguise of a forty-something, tweed-wearing, classic Brit to look like the teen he’d been when he became a genie.  He was a toe-haired waif who would easily steal your pocket watch after you gave him a dollar for a lollipop.  Right then, I would’ve rather had the older, more comforting model—which is a kind of a mix between Santa Claus and Mark Williams playing the best friend’s dad in those boy-wizard movies rather than my Artful Dodger.  “And they haven’t been released because we’re not sure if we have the means to deal with them all yet.”
I gazed at the cages within easy view.  Too many bizarre faces looked back at me.  Their mouths were moving, but no sounds were coming out.
“We had to block the sound, love,” Basil said, answering my question before I could ask it.  “So we could think.”
I saw Trygvyr, my friend and former pet, walking toward us from between the hanging cages.  His long, white hair had been pulled severely back at his neck and tied with a strip of rawhide.  His eyes pulled at me like twin black holes, where only anger escaped.  His wiry body showed a tautness born of rage and I sure as hell didn’t want to be on the receiving end.  When he got within a dozen feet of us, I could hear him snarling like the dog he’d spent fifteen decades transformed into. 
He moved to brush past Raye and I.  Throwing aside any thought of personal safety, I snagged his arm on the way by.
“What gives?” I asked.
With his eyes still locked on a space far ahead of us, he shrugged off my grasp. “There are still Efreet in the cages?” he asked.
“Last I checked.”
Power blossomed over him like he was preparing to go nuclear.  “If you want any of them capable of speech any time soon, I suggest you get to them before I do.”
When he tried to shrug off my hold on his arm, I stuck to him like I was glued on.  “Whoa.  Hang on a second.  I’d like to kick all of their asses as much as the next djinn, but we’ve got all the time in the world for that.”
Unless I missed my guess, Tryg was mere seconds from boiling over and saying those little words he’d said once before.  ‘I renounce the Rules’ had changed him into an Efreet then and, the way he was acting, they were sure to turn him into one again.
“Talk to me.”
He didn’t even look at me.
“Major!”  I hated using the name I’d chosen to call the dog he’d been, but when the big furball had gotten too engrossed in rabbit chasing to pay attention to me, it always worked.
His dark eyes turned toward me, finally focusing on what was real and not the rage in his head.  “Yes, Mistress?”
I let out a breath I’d been holding so long my ribs hurt.  “That’s better.  What the hell is wrong with you?”
Jerking his arm, he tried to free himself, but I wasn’t letting him go until the steam stopped coming out his ears.  “The Efreet must be made to pay for their atrocities,” he said
“Not the way you were thinking about making them pay, bud.” 
All he did was blink at me like a freakin’ idiot.
“You were this close…” I held my index finger a millimeter from my thumb. “…to giving up being a genie.”
When he shook all over like he still had long fur, and it was wet, I knew I’d finally made an impression. 
One hand scrubbed the side of his face while I held tight to the other arm.  “Odin’s hairy balls.”
“My thoughts exactly.”  I squeezed my hand and pulled him toward me. “Now, I’ll ask again, what the hell is wrong with you?” 
“Wrong with me?  How can you ask after seeing…?  You haven’t seen, have you?”
“When I first came into the warehouse, I thought something was hinky.  Strange and scary and bewildering. But I was a mouse at the time.  Everything’s strange and scary when you’re that low on the food chain. I can’t say for sure whether any of those rodent impressions were real.”  I nudged Basil with an elbow.  “He was just beginning to shed some light when you showed up all hell bent for leather.”


Yep, another teaser.  But it's not a total tease because this will be available for purchase in September - good lord willin' and the creek don't rise. 

Maybe by Friday I can untease at least the cover of In Deep Wish for all y'all.  I'm not pushing the artist because this isn't time sensitive, so we'll see.  As soon as I have the final version, I'll post it.  K?

Now, I need to get back to edits.  I should have this pass done by the weekend, and a final read-through with tweaking done by the end of next week, so I can get this to JC. Yay.

Any questions?  Comments?  Stuffs?


Monday, June 19, 2017

Update

First off, because I want to get it out of the way - Wish in One Hand is still free worldwide through the end of today.  (Check your local listings.)  In Deep Wish and Up Wish Creek are still 99c or .99p in the US and UK through the end of today.  Shop early, shop often.  If you already own Wish in One Hand, now's the time to get the other two.

As for the numbers from this so far... 

WIOH - 79 copies out the door as of this post.
IDW - 3 copies sold
UWC - 3 copies sold.

Oddly, those sales mean the ad is paid for.  It was only a $3 Father's Day Promo through Paranormal & Urban Fantasy Bargains. Whether those sales actually came from the ad, or whether they came from my pushes on FB and Twitter, the world will never know.

WIOH topped out at #109 on the free Fantasy/Paranormal & Urban chart in the US.  But it was #50 this morning in the same category in Canada.  Woohoo. 

In other news, I sent an email off to my cover artist to begin talking about the cover for Wish Hits the Fan.  Fingers crossed that she still loves me and will do this last genie cover for me.  It would totally suck if she couldn't because I'm not sure I could find someone to do the fourth cover to match the other 3 without it costing me my first born child.  And I'm sure my first born child wouldn't appreciate me trying to hock her to pay for my cover art.

I'm also seeing if she can tweak the cover for In Deep Wish for me.  Someone... you know who you are... suggested I get rid of Mary and just have Jo.  The more I think about it, the more I like the idea.  Just Jo.  Cool. 

Down the road a piece, I will put all four books into a box set.  Not sure when that'll happen.  If everything else goes well, maybe in time for Christmas.

Okay, well, that's it for me.  Any questions?  Any comments? 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Genies for Free and Cheap!

Okay, so maybe not the genies themselves.  We're against the sale of sentient beings, after all.  But the Once Upon a Djinn books are either free or for sale this weekend.

Wish in One Hand  - US
Wish in One Hand - UK

In Deep Wish - US
In Deep Wish - UK

Up Wish Creek - US
Up Wish Creek - UK


Friday, June 16, 2017

Father's Day Weekend Sale

Hey All!  I just thought I'd drop in and let y'all know that starting tomorrow, through the weekend (6/17-6/19/17), my Once Upon a Djinn series will be having a sale.  Well, kind of a sale.  Wish in One Hand will be free, and the other two (In Deep Wish / Up Wish Creek) will be 99c/.99p.

If you know anything about Jo, you know she has some serious father issues.  Hell, if it weren't for her father, she wouldn't be a genie, so there wouldn't be any genie books.  Jus' sayin'.  So, it seemed fitting to have a sale on these books for Father's Day.  If you don't know anything about Jo, now's your time to find out.

And for those of you waiting patiently (or not so) for the final book - Wish Hits the Fan - it IS written.  It just needs to be edited.  Which I am working on.  Slowly, but I am working on it.  All will be made clear, the threads will be tied up, and this will be the end of this arc in Jo's story.

And just so ya know, Wish Hits the Fan picks up exactly where Up Wish Creek left off. 

I was shooting for August before everything writerly sort of fell apart.  Now, I'm hoping for September.  Sorry about that.  Really I am.  I hate that I may have disappointed any of you.

Anyway, tell your friends.  Buy lots of copies (so I can pay my editor for her work on Wish Hits the Fan).  And enjoy the story!


Monday, June 12, 2017

I've Lost the Will...

...to market. 

Don't worry.  My will to live is fine.  My will to write is there, stuck behind my will to edit which is slowly coming back.  (Super slowly.  I think I did a page last night.)  My will to market?  It's pretty much on life support.

You see, the last time I paid for a marketing effort, I didn't even come close to breaking even.  Basically, I sold like 10 books at 99c each which netted me a negative $13.60.  Yeah.  And the residuals I usually get after a sale never appeared.  (Residuals - when people buy other books after buying the one that was on sale.)  The time before that, I barely broke even. 

Anyway, stuff like that puts me in a meh mood.  If you spend more money than you make, you go broke.  Pretty simple maxim.  The other maxim where you have to spend money to make money?  Yeah, there's that, too.  Let's just say that the two maxims are at war and my will to market is the casualty.

To paraphrase a song, it's all about the money money money*.  Have to have money to spend money to make money to have money to... :barf:

Add in the fact that I can't even look at my Twitter feed without wanting to beat someone upside the head with Silver's clue by four, and the fact that I'm talking to myself on Facebook for the most part.  And people who have more pull than I do keep bashing self-publishing...  Yeah, my marketing efforts seem pointless.

Which makes editing the next book seem pointless.  Which creates a traffic jam and stalls writing any other books.  You get the gist.

Don't get me started on reviews.  Seriously.  Don't.

So, anyway, that's where I'm at.  All whine, no cheese.  There will be books in the future, though.  Someday.  Eventually.  When I scrape together the will and the money.

*Yes, I realize the song is NOT about the money.  And yes, I just watched Pitch Perfect yesterday.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Confusing Front Matter Verbiage

Recently, I opened a new book - newly published, I should say, since I've been reading a lot of old books recently - and in the front matter there was a weird disclaimer that went something like 'images of people on the cover are not meant to represent the characters in this book'.  Or something.  I don't remember the exact verbiage.  It just struck me as weird.  For more reasons than one.

First off, from what I recalled, there were no images of people on this cover. So I scrolled back to look at the cover again and sure enough, there were no pictures of people on the cover - just objects in a room.  Which made the verbiage even weirder.

Then I thought about the disclaimer again.  People pictured on the cover of a book but not meant to be images of the characters?  Wha? 

Who the hell are the images meant to represent then?  It's a head-scratcher, lemme tell ya.

This was from an imprint of one of the BIG FIVE publishers, mind you.  Which makes me wonder if there was some kind of litigious activity beforehand on one of their other covers that made them feel like they needed to put that verbiage in all of their novels henceforth.

I mean, I can see sorta some kind of verbiage that says something about the images on the cover aren't meant to represent real persons, living or dead, yada yada yada.  People will sue over any perceived slight these days.  But for them to say the images aren't meant to represent the fictitious characters in a book you're about to read?  Nope, still can't wrap my brain around that one.

I have heard of authors getting screwed by big publishers when the people on the cover don't look anything like the characters they're meant to represent, but I would assume that would be something between the writer and the publisher, and wouldn't require a disclaimer.  Unless the author insisted the publisher put one in so the readers know the difference between the description and the art are not the author's fault.  But this was a book without people on the cover.  Derp.

So confusing.

Maybe someone used boilerplate text without reading it first.  Which would be a damn shame because one would hope people would be more conscientious about their jobs than that.  (Not that I haven't almost kinda sorta done the copy-paste-oops thing.  I caught it before I uploaded it, though.)

I dunno.

What do you think?


Friday, June 2, 2017

Crime and Punishment in the News

I'm trying something new and building this post throughout the week rather than all at once on Friday morning.  Less scrambling around trying to remember what news stories I saw.  Here are the ones I thought you might find interesting.

Federal judge throws out sentencing for DC sniper because the dude was a 'minor' at the time of the crimes.  10 people dead, but hey, he was 17 so he didn't really mean it.  http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/05/27/federal-judge-throws-out-convicted-d-c-snipers-four-life-sentences/

Woman in NYC gets slashed in the face by a crazy person because she didn't want to sit with her baby next to the bitch.   When they finally caught the attacker, they found she'd already been arrested 60 times.  Umm... WTF?  http://nypost.com/2017/05/28/woman-slashed-on-subway-platform-at-grand-central/

Meanwhile in Chicago, a dude going about his business as an Uber driver, trying to make a living, gets hacked to death in a random incident by a 16 year old girl who stole the weapons she used to kill him. This article calls it a spontaneous attack.  Not really sure about that since she stole the knife and the machete, called for an Uber pick-up, and then started stabbing the guy right after she got into his car.  That shit sounds planned to me.  Sorta like she said to herself that morning 'today I'm gonna stab the shit out of some unsuspecting Uber driver' and whichever one picked her up was the one that got it. http://www.fox32chicago.com/news/crime/257826860-story

In Philadelphia, someone stabbed a city councilman.  It seems like they're making the assumption that it was a robbery gone bad, but my bullshit senses are tingling.  Random robbery in a residential area where there's typically little foot traffic?  Umm, ri-ight.  http://www.fox29.com/news/258191304-story

Sorry there isn't as much punishment as crime this week.  That's sometimes the way of things, I guess. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Crime and Punishment in the News

In recent crime and punishment news*...

Alabama executed the supposed 'Houdini of Death Row' (because he'd managed to wiggle his way out of 7 other execution dates):  http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2017/05/live_updates_alabama_death_row.html

Kuwaiti officials apprehend pigeon carrying backpack full of drugs: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-40042260

Then there's the 8-yr old car thief:  http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/2017/05/16/police-8-year-old-arrested-palm-bay-car-burglary-case/101740458/

And the other little hoodlums in the same town: http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/2017/05/17/more-youth-arrested-palm-bay-car-theft/101784600/

And these assholes who killed a little boy after they stole the car he was asleep inside: http://ktla.com/2017/05/18/3-mississippi-teenagers-arrested-for-allegedly-killing-6-year-old-boy-after-stealing-car-he-was-left-in/

In happier news, here's a Chicago cabbie who rescued a little girl in the same situation as above: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-girl-unharmed-after-north-side-car-theft-20170518-story.html

And the feds are finally getting tough on crime again.   http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/sessions-directs-federal-prosecutors-to-seek-max-punishment-for-crimes/article/2622895

* You may notice a major omission in the crime news from this week.  I prefer not to touch on the horrific crimes in Manchester at this time.  It will lead to ranting and arm-waving and a rise in blood pressure, and I'm not in the mood. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Disappointing Read

If you know me, you know I rarely leave a bad review.  Part of that is because I rarely finish a book that would result in a bad review.  I realize it's bad partway through and quit.  Who's got time to read bad books?  I also know that bad reviews can hurt a book's sales and since a review is just my opinion, why do that to someone? 

But this weekend, I had to give a book three stars.  (Yes, for me, 3-stars is a bad review.)  The book was Mickey Spillane's The Erection Set.  From the title and the cover, I already had an inkling it was going to be tawdry.  And let's face it, Mickey is sometimes a little tawdry.  It's part and parcel of his books.  But this... this was over the top. 

It seemed like it was nasty for the sake of being nasty.  Full of shock factor snippets tossed off for effect.  I felt like Mickey was told to sex the book up a bit and took the editorial notes to a ludicrous level.  

And even then, I could've forgiven it.  I read books with sex in them.  I read books with some nasty bits in them, too.  I flip past that stuff and move on to the story.  Which was what I was doing throughout The Erection Set

But partway through the book, I found something familiar.  And even with my piss-poor memory, I could tell it had been ripped off from another book.  It was the same plot devise Mickey had used in his earlier book The Deep (which I totally loved).  And I thought to myself, he can't be doing the same thing in this book.  So I kept reading.

Oh, things were just different enough to make the story interesting, but it was, in essence, the same book.  All the way to the end.

Guy who's been away fighting in WWII and then stayed away for some amount of years afterwards, comes home.  He's got a reputation of being a criminal and a general bad guy.  Since he was something of a hoodlum in his youth, it's easy for everyone from his past life to believe he's bad.  And with bad things happening, he's the easy suspect.  So the police pull him in and question him.  He writes a number on a piece of paper, slides it across the table at the detective and tells him to call that number.  After the officer does, he's told he can go. 

There's a gal in the story who falls in love with the bad guy.  She's pretty sure he's not as bad as everyone thinks and she falls in love.  When confronted with what she thinks is the proof of his evil doings, she hates him, but she sticks around to see how it all plays out. 

In the end, it's revealed that he's been working for the government all along and the assumptions she's made are proven false.  All is well.  The end.

That's an easy description of both books.  And it gave me a serious sad last night.

I depend on certain authors to give me what I expect - well-written stories I haven't read before.  And Mickey had let me down.  I wondered if maybe in his old age, he was getting cantankerous, but then I realized he was only 54 when he wrote this.  Then I wondered if he'd perhaps gotten sick of people trying to tell him what to write, so he thumbed his nose at the establishment and gave them a regurgitated book so thick with raunch, they'd have to see how bad it was and leave him the hell alone. 

Then Hubs brought up an interesting point - Mickey allowed them to publish this book.  He put his name on it.  (Yeah, contracts... I know, but still...)  To Hubs, it sounded like Mickey had sold out.  The thought of which made me even sadder. 

So, yeah, 3-stars.  If it had been anyone but Spillane, it would've gotten fewer, but the writing was still there and still awesome, if you ignored the nasty and the regurg.  Hell, if it had been anyone else, it wouldn't have finished it.  But I learned an important lesson here.  I won't be reading anymore of his post 1970s novels.  Stick with the early stuff and I should be fine. 

And the other important lesson I learned.  Don't regurgitate your stories.  I'm lucky because I don't have any telling me what I should write or any editorial board telling me how to write what I write. 

And another thing... Don't write something just because someone thinks it's what the public might want.  Again, I don't have anyone telling me what I ought to write, so I'm lucky there.  I could write what I think the public might want, but that's just not me.  I write what I write.  Hopefully, readers will enjoy it and buy my stories.  If not, there's really not much I can do about it without selling out.

Not that I don't think about it on occasion.  Ah, the sweet siren song of sales... 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Confidence

Writers need a lot of things - paper, writing utensils, computers, printers... yada yada yada.  They also need balls... errr... confidence.  Well, they need confidence if they want to be anything more than people putting words on paper for themselves, that is.  Come to think of it, you don't really need a lick of confidence to write something for yourself, but I digress...

Confidence.  You need it.  And unfortunately, it's not something you can buy at the Wallyworld. 

You need confidence to send a query letter.  You need confidence to send your book out on submission.  You need boatloads of confidence to self-publish, because it's only you telling yourself you're good enough.

And, yes, I mean YOU'RE good enough.  Yeah, yeah, I've heard that rejections are 'nothing personal', but the words we write are intensely personal.  Or to paraphrase from You've Got Mail, 'When you say 'it's nothing personal', you mean it's nothing personal to you. It's personal to me.'

So you need confidence. The funny thing about confidence, though, is that you can have it one day and lose it the next. 

Back in late 2014, I pulled every iota of my confidence into a shining sphere, hammered it into a shield, and went out into the world, ready to take on self-publishing.  Two years later?  I'm holding a handle wondering where my shield went.  A little off here, a little off there... and it's gone.

Oh, I managed to cobble a little confidence back together early in the year so I could put Natural Causes out there.  Crickets.

And so, right now, my confidence is gone.

Oh, I know I can write.  Like I said, I never needed confidence for that.  I just have no confidence that I can make any money at this anymore.  I'm not sure what I write is what the public wants and I'm totally not sure I can write whatever it is the public wants.  And every time I sit down to work on writing or editing, the little voice in the back of my head says 'what's the point?' 

I know... wah.  Cry me a river.  Boo hoo.  :shrug:  x+y=z, a is a, it is what it is.

Not sure what the future will bring at this point. Maybe all this will pass, I'll gird my loins and step back into battle.  Until then?  I don't know.  I'd ask you to stay tuned, but I'm not going to ask anyone to sit and watch static until the program comes back on.  But trust me, if anything changes, you'll be the first to know.



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Rush to Judgement Meter Topped Out

Recently, I saw a news story about a teenager assaulting an older woman - picking her up, dashing her to the ground, and then throwing her in a pool. 

This morning, I saw screen capture photos of said assault.  To me, it looks like he picks her up in a sort of beat hug and she's holding onto him like she knows him.  The next photo looks like he was walking toward the pool when he accidentally dropped her.  Afterwards, I assume he picked her up again and threw her in the pool.  It didn't look like assault.  It looked like pool antics gone wrong.

I didn't watch the video, I only saw the screen captures.  Maybe she was fighting and screaming, and the dozens of people around them are accessories. 

Or maybe someone somewhere is trying to incite something by making this out to be more than it is.  The teen has been charged with assault and could face jail time. 

I don't know the truth.  I suspect the majority of people out there don't know the truth either.  But the 'rush to judgement meter' here is topped out.  It seems like it's topped out damn near everywhere - on both sides of the aisle and all along the middle.  I'm certainly not immune. 

I think that's partly because I don't know what to trust anymore.  Certainly not the media.  Not Joe Public who is getting their information from said media or secondhand from people who are getting their information from the media.  Every piece of information has to go through a series of sieves now. 

Including what I say here because my information is only as good as the sources I have chosen to trust.  I do my best to do my homework and get it right, but... yah...

So, when you see crime in the news, check your sources.  Hell, when you see anything in the news, check your sources.  Then check your premises.  Then recheck everything. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Q&A Interview Style About Fertile Ground

So, I thought I'd do a little Q&A today about Fertile Ground, you know, since it's on sale and its one year anniversary is fast approaching...

What is Fertile Ground, anyway?

It's a suspense novel written in the same general world as Dying Embers.

What's that mean?

Well, it means that FG is a book with the main character working for the Serial Crime Investigation Unit of Homeland Security - just like in DE.

So, no Jace?

Nope, no Jace.  Although she is mentioned briefly.  This book is all about Teri Buchanan. 

What made you write this book instead of another book about Jace?

When I finished DE, I felt like I was done with Jace.  But I didn't feel like I was done with the SCIU.  There are a lot of serial criminals out there.

Serial criminals?  Don't you mean serial killers?

Well, there are those - like Emma in DE - but there are other heinous assholes in the world who commit crimes in a serial fashion.  Like Adam in Fertile Ground.  He's a serial rapist. 

What made you think of something like that?

Frankly, I was thinking about what to do next with the SCIU, and I wanted something different.  A different criminal who committed serial crimes.  Serial rapist came to mind and Adam Wyte popped into my head.  And since I created Jace as someone terrified of fire set against a pyromaniac, I had to create a hero who would be face something she truly feared.  Thus, Teri Buchanan, a rape survivor heads up the manhunt for a serial rapist.

Rape survivor?

She doesn't like to think of herself as a victim.  I didn't want this to be a victim book.  Like always, I wanted to write about justice and power over fear. 

But, if you use the parallel of Jace's pyrophobia in DE, doesn't that mean Teri is afraid of rapists?

I wouldn't say that.  She's pissed.  She never saw justice in her own case.  Given that, she's more than a little afraid of what she'll do when she's confronted with a rapist.  She's afraid her experience will make her likely to take the law into her own hands, and SCIU agents are law-enforcers, not judge and jury.  She has to face her fear and do the right thing.  Unfortunately for her, other people have other agendas.

Like who?  What?

You'll have to read the book and see.

What do you have to say to anyone concerned about the subject matter of Fertile Ground?  Rape is an incredibly touchy subject.


All I can say is that I do not actively describe any rape scenes in this book.  I'm not into that crap.  Creepy stalker scenes?  Yep.  Murder scenes?  Of course.  It's what I do.  And if you come along for the ride, I promise there is a very satisfying ending.  Naturally.  This is me we're talking about.  The good guys always win.  The bad guys always lose and they always get what's coming to them in the end.

I hope you'll pick up a copy of Fertile Ground - on sale now worldwide - and see for yourselves.

Any other questions?  I'll answer what I can as long as it doesn't give any spoilers.  I hate spoilers.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Crime in the News... Yesteryear Edition

Dateline 1979... Not that big a trip in the wayback machine, but definitely not a current event.

A pregnant woman is brutally raped and beaten  She loses the baby and sustains a major head injury.  After the fact, she cannot remember the attack or the events leading up to it.  Months later, she has a flashback of sorts and suddenly, she is certain her husband is the culprit.  He stands trial and, based on her testimony, he is found guilty and sentenced to 15 - life.

He maintains his innocence.  (But don't they all, right?)  He swears he was out getting burgers at the time of her attack and came home to find her afterwards.  He says he saw a man getting into a vehicle and leaving the area when he got home from his burger run.  None of that matters because his wife swears he's the one who attacked her. 

Flash forward to 1996 when DNA technology was in its infancy but already becoming a major tool in crime investigation.  They test the rape kit from the attack.  The DNA matches... a serial rapist who had been hunting that area during the time of her attack and is in prison for raping and attacking other women.  After 16 years in prison, the husband is exonerated.

Three years later, he is awarded over $600K for his wrongful imprisonment.  Two months after that, he settles a lawsuit with his now ex-wife who is still sure he had some measure of responsibility in the death of their baby.

Umm... yeah.  There are so many things wrong with this, I'm not sure where to begin. 

Oh, I get why he was convicted.  Kind of.  She said he did it.  She, who had sustained brain damage during the attack, giving her all the joys that come with that shit, took the stand and pointed at him.  It should've been a defense attorney's field day.  In the couple occasions where I might've been called upon to testify for the prosecution, I worried that some defense attorney might bring up my own brain injury as a weapon to use against my testimony.  In her case, I suspect someone was helping plant those memories in her shattered head. 

Plus, back in 1980, they only had blood type to go on with regard to evidence.  He had O+, the attacker had O+.  (The most common blood type, btw.)  Bingo bango bongo, he's guilty.  Except when he isn't.

And I get why he settled the lawsuit.  After all both he and she had been through, he didn't want to drag them both through a court battle.  Hell, he probably feels some measure of displaced guilt because if he hadn't left her home alone that night, the whole thing might not have happened. 

I don't get why she brought the lawsuit in the first place.  Except he'd just come into a boatload of money.  Which is kind of sick, in my opinion.  Using the tragedy of all that occurred to squeeze cash out of a man who'd already paid for something he didn't do with 16 years of his life.  Feh.

Anyway, as people (as in The Innocence Project) look into more and more of these older crimes using newer technology, we're seeing more and more cases get overturned.  Cases that today would never end in a guilty verdict.  And one hopes that as the old crimes age and disappear, we'll stop seeing this kind of miscarriage of justice.  Technology is an awesome thing.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Fertile Ground Snippet and Sale

Good morning, folks!  Since Fertile Ground is on sale right now, I thought I'd share a little bit of it.  Enjoy!



ONE


The woman strolled past Adam toward the produce aisle, the essence of her fertility wafting through the air like a perfume. He waited until she stopped to squeeze the cantaloupes before he followed. The fruit she fondled couldn’t be nearly as ripe as she was, but by all appearances, the melons were more attractive.
Today she wore her hair pulled back in a tight, unflattering ponytail, and her baggy clothing hid her as well as any camouflage. But he saw the female for what she was. A perfect vessel he’d spent weeks carefully choosing. Whether in this butt-ugly guise or when he’d first seen the girl with a simple dress flowing around those shapely bare legs, the essence of her femininity called to him. He wouldn’t need to actually look at her. Not for long, anyway. Finding these women attractive had never been a requirement. He only needed to get inside and plant his seed. Then he could be done with her. For now.
Nine months down the road, she’d bear a child in his image. They all did. And that’s all that mattered.
Seven weeks ago this girl had simply been another prey animal passing through his hunting grounds. She’d claimed his notice then, but he’d already had a target in mind. Since then, he had insured the other girl would be draped over the porcelain, proving that her womb bore his fruit. Time to move on to this next vessel.
When the brunette squeezed a tomato to test its ripeness, he smiled. Even as dedicated to his mission as Adam was, he could spare a moment to appreciate the irony. Most likely the girl didn’t possess the self-awareness to know how ripe her own body had become.
Fertile ground. Like the others. And exactly like the others, she couldn’t be bothered to keep track of her cycles. Women never watched for the signs. They never bothered to understand God’s rhythm or His plan for the female of the human bond.
Only Adam understood the Lord’s intentions.
“Be fruitful and multiply,” he said on a whisper of breath as the girl painstakingly chose a half dozen apples, placed them carefully into a bag, and gently set it in her cart. Those meticulous hands would someday hold his son.
A soft smile crept over his lips as he imagined his boy’s sturdy legs taking their first steps. The toddler’s smile of too-few teeth would express the initial joy of becoming a man and leaving the life of an animal behind.
For the first few years, children were little more than the monkeys some claimed mankind descended from. Adam knew better. The beginning of a man’s life amounted to a test. He could choose to crawl like an animal or not. Walking upright signified the passage from base creature into the greater ideals of God’s plan.
Adam’s sons would know their true place in the world. The women could raise them through those monkey years. Time enough to claim them once they joined the human race. Once they became men.
“Excuse me.” The shy voice was so close he jumped. “Oh! I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.”
He steeled himself against the annoyance welling up. Pasting on a deprecating smile, he tilted his head. “Not a problem. I was trying to decide if I want salad for dinner tonight.”
“It’s just that… Do I know you from somewhere?”
This wasn’t the first member of his herd to recognize him. Sometimes, he let them stumble across him on purpose. It made the hunt so much more exciting. Gazing at her carefully, he pretended to try and place her face. “Were you at the protest on campus a couple months ago?”
Her lush mouth split into a wide smile filled with the perfect teeth he hoped were natural. “Right. Over at Eastern. I figured that was you. Funny running into you here.”
“I was thinking that exact thing myself.” Enough people populated the metro-Detroit area they never would’ve crossed paths accidentally, but letting her think his appearance was a coincidence or fate played into his plans.
“Do you live near here, too?” Her green eyes narrowed under sculpted eyebrows. “Weird that I haven’t seen you before.”
“I travel around the area for work. I happened to be driving by on my way east, saw this place, and got the idea to grab something for dinner.” The words dropped smoothly from his mouth. He’d spoken the same lies too many times before for them to come out as anything but natural. Of course, it helped that they weren’t total falsehoods. He did travel for work and he was hungry.
“I live a couple blocks from here,” she said, nodding in the general direction of her apartment. He pasted a surprised look on his face, as if he hadn’t spent the previous night in her backyard watching her.
“Small world.” He grabbed a tomato and a bag of lettuce. “Well. Gotta get back on the road. It was nice running into you.”
“Sure. Next time you’re in the area, look me up.” Her words sounded friendly enough, but he knew she didn’t want to see him again. None of them wanted to.
But they all did.

 

TWO


A baby wailed its displeasure, jerking Agent Teri Buchanan upright and causing her to hammer both shins on the seat in front of her. The businessman there craned his head around to glare at the source of his discomfort. She grimaced back. Nothing like a red-eye flight to bring out the best in people. Nothing like a lack of coffee to bring out the worst in Teri.
Still, she must’ve slept. And so deeply that she’d missed the pilot’s standard ‘we’re beginning our descent’ speech. The problem was she didn’t feel the slightest bit rested. Wired, maybe. Keyed-up, definitely.
Popping a hard candy into her mouth, she readied herself for her first arrival into Detroit. She certainly didn’t need to wade through crowds in a strange airport with her ears plugged from air pressure. That kind of headache she could live without, especially if she wanted to make a good impression on her first day in a new assignment.
Her watch said 5:42 when the plane landed. The timepiece, along with the rest of her, was still on Dallas time. Adding an hour, she did a little more math and calculated she had barely enough time to make it to her new office before the conference call from Director Walter Graham. She’d seen the man on Friday, for petesakes, but a text the day before her Monday flight made it clear he wanted her in this meeting.
The question was ‘why?’
“I really appreciate your assistance with staffing this branch, Teri,” he’d said. He acted like she didn’t have an ulterior motive for getting the flock out of Texas. They both pretended the move had only been to improve her skills and advance her career. When she thanked him, neither delved too deeply into her gratitude.
Teri had her reasons. She needed to get away from Dallas. If only to get out from under the shadow of Graham’s golden girl, Jace Douglas, and shine in an environment all her own. If she had to hear about how Jace had brought down the car-be-que killer one more time, she might scream. If she had to watch the woman, who had everything Teri could never have, parade around the office doing everything right, she’d implode. Hell, the woman had even come back from the case with a new partner—both personally and professionally.
She’d hate the woman if Jace wasn’t so damn good at her job.
What she couldn’t afford to admit, even to herself, was that Jace had nothing to do with her need to transfer. Teri was running from the weight of her past. And putting as much distance as she could between herself and him.
Even as she pushed herself out of her too-small airplane seat and tugged her carry-on from the overhead compartment, she could still hear his breathy grunts in her ear. She could feel his weight upon her—
A wayward elbow to her ribs pulled her back into focus. If she allowed herself to fall into old memories best left to rot, she’d never get the hell off the flying sausage casing.
Following the sea of lemmings through the terminal, she made it to baggage claim ahead of her belongings. One of her bags tumbled out onto the conveyor before too long. The other had to have been the last bag unloaded from the plane, and it looked like a gorilla had used it for a trampoline. Cursing her dumb luck and lack of time, she made a mental note to harass the airline later and scurried for the taxi area.
Not long after, she slid into the back of a cab and headed east toward the city. The Detroit office, according to her orientation packet, wasn’t actually in the city proper. It was tucked into a suburban industrial park on the western outskirts of the metropolis. That suited her fine. From what she’d heard, Detroit wasn’t the safest of cities to live or work in.
Exactly the sort of place to put a new branch of the S.C.I.U., though.
A quick glance at her compact showed the ravages of red-eye travel. Her shoulder-length hair had taken on a luster that leaned more toward dirty-dishwater than the ash-blonde she paid good money for. The bags under her eyes were only slightly less heavy than her luggage. And at some point, her skin had lost the rosy-glow one would hope for on the first day at a new job.
Pawing through her purse like a raccoon after crayfish, she located what few cosmetics the TSA would allow through to the gates and did her best to recreate Agent Teri Buchanan of the Serial Crimes Investigation Unit. Another glance in the mirror told her the effort was pointless. She looked more like the witness to a horrible crime than a woman who investigated them.
The taxi pulled in front of the Detroit branch of the S.C.I.U. with five minutes to spare. Not enough time for her to find her office and settle in, but hopefully enough to secure a cup of strong coffee before facing the Director. Graham wasn’t exactly a hard-ass to work for, but she didn’t want to push the boundaries by straggling in all bleary-eyed and caffeine-deprived.