Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday Giveaway - Sanctus by Simon Toyne

This is another ARC I got at Bouchercon. See? Winning these things at this blog is almost like being at B'con yourself. Except without the hassles of travel*.

Sanctus by Simon Toyne (pronounced TOYNE) is a thriller with such shocking global implications that it will literally kncok your socks off to say nothing of your shoes. Forget the shoes. They're gone.

Have I read it? No. Again, my TBR pile is bigger than yours. Guaranteed. But listen to what the publisher has to say about it:

One man’s sacrifice shocks the world . . .

One woman’s courage threatens a conspiracy as old as humankind . . .

And some will do anything—anything—to keep their secrets in the dark.


A man climbs a cliff face in the oldest inhabited place on earth, a mountain known as the Citadel, a Vatican-like city-state that towers above the city of Ruin in modern-day Turkey. But this is no ordinary ascent. It is a dangerous, symbolic act. And thanks to the media, it is an event witnessed by the entire world.

Few people understand its consequence. But for foundation worker Kathryn Mann and a handful of others, it’s evidence that a revolution is at hand. For the Sancti, the cowled and secretive monks who live inside the Citadel, it could mean the end of everything they have built. They will stop at nothing to keep what is theirs, and they will break every law in every country and even kill to hold it fast. For American reporter Liv Adamsen, it spurs the memory of the beloved brother she lost years before, setting her on a journey across the world and into the heart of her own identity.

There, she will make a discovery so shocking that it will change everything. . . .

See? Not a Dan Brown ripoff at all...

Note that it's being published in fifty countries. My PRECINCT PUERTO RICO books aren't even available in Puerto Rico...

Anyway, it's free. Leave a comment expressing interest. Drawing a week from today.

* Or those damned annoying witty conversations.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Kindle Sales, Redux...

Perhaps I should stop using words like "redux." Anywho, I thought I'd report on the Kindle sales I'm making since I'd been kind enough to whine about them earlier in the month.

I'm happy to report that though I had projected a total of 4 (four) sales for the month of September, and though I'd later reported that after hundreds of dollars in giveaways at the latest iteration of Bouchercon (fabulous event, by the way) my sales had jumped to 5 (five) for the month, I am now at a total of 8 (eight) sales for September and think I have an outside chance at 10 (yes, ten).

Strange, however, that not a single one of all those sales is of my best collection - Killing Ways 2. Note that this collection isn't just the second collection I put out. It is also as much better than Killing Ways 1 as 2 is greater than 1 - that is, one hundred percent better. Not to discourage you, however, here is a link to my first collection. Not as good as the second, but probably better than anything else you'll spend 99 cents on this year. Except for the second collection, of course...

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Monday Giveaway - Choke Hold by Christa Faust

Well, the subject line says most of it, but here's the whole deal. Hard Case Crime is coming back and I've got one of their new releases - signed, no less. Faust's Money Shot was nominated for an Edgar so how bad could this sequel be? I'm guessing "not very." Anyway, it'll cost you nothing but a comment here and a week's worth of patience to find out for yourself. Next Monday, I'll pick a winner.

( Meanwhile, of course, you could keep yourself entertained by running out to get a Kindle copy of Killing Ways 2. And if you're really bored, you could even review it for Amazon and give it two thumbs up or ten gold stars or whatever the wacky kids at Amazon are doing nowadays...)

Mind you, had a very interesting lunch conversation with Christa and Russel McLean about the background for her main characters - fighter and porn star - at Bouchercon a week ago.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bouchercon 2016: Glasgow?

I'd go. This is a possibility if certain Scotsmen worked hard and present a killer proposal. Never been to Glasgow, but I've heard they have the hotels, the airports, and the haunted castles, so count me in if it materializes... The convention, not the city. Pretty sure the city's there already.

Guests of honor would be no problem: if Rankin or McDermid won't do it, I'll volunteer... McTorres?

Of course, if I go, I have to design a tartan for my family, no? And a crest and motto. Perhaps something like: No Jodas Conmigo...

It would be a great way to meet a lot of British and European authors who don't make it to Bouchercons on this side of the world.

Some might scoff that no American would travel that far, but that's hardly true of the B'Con troop. They went to Anchorage Alaska in droves. I was there. I saw it. The droving, that is. Glasgow would be an easier trip for me.

Can't wait.

Thursday Giveaway: An Uncertain Place by Fred Vargas

Besides the Sue Grafton arc I'm giving away*, I have another novel (actually quite a few) that I won't get a chance to read until I hit retirement age in 2031. Fred Vargas' latest, An Uncertain Place, was presented to me in ARC form and I'm willing to part with it. Drop me a note here and if there are many, I'll put names in a hat next Thursday (September 29th) and announce a winner. No strings.

I suspect I'll be running contests everyday for a week since I got many more books than I can read at B'con. Keep stopping by. You might find something you like.

* Scroll down...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bouchercon Advertising...

When you go to Bouchercon, you must not go expecting any big boost in sales from anything you do - except possibly getting arrested... or dying. All the doo-dads go on a series of doo-dad tables - pens, postcards, bookmarks, fliers, buttons, etc. They get picked over and maybe a sale or two is generated. Certainly the author can at least say "hey, I tried."

I tried.

I put my doo-dads on the tables - twenty shirts, embroidered and screen printed. All meant to drive traffic towards my Kindles. Mind you, shirts are expensive. Imagine the cost of buying a shirt at a retail store (as opposed to say, a gas station) and multiply that by twenty.

So how did that turn out for me?

Well, you recall (if you read this blog slavishly and have pretty good recall...) that I was on track to sell four Kindles this month for a total of about $1.40 in my pocket. I checked my numbers before leaving for Bouchercon, and I had already sold four. Now, several days after the end of the convention, I find my efforts and investment have indeed paid off.

Amazon reports that I have now sold a fifth Kindle, netting me 35 more cents. I've now surpassed my expectatios for the month of September and, in fact, were I a more numbers oriented person I'd say I'm running at 125% of early projections. I'm not sure the math is right, but it certainly looks impressive.

Oh well.

V is for Vengeance Giveaway

Sue Grafton's latest comes out in November. I got the ARC at Bouchercon. Have I read it? No. Frankly, I won't be able to read it until the technology is in place to download books directly to my brain. (Trust me, this is why Steve Jobs left Apple.)

So I'll give it away. Leave a comment right here at this blog. If there's a bunch of names, I'll put them in a hat and pick one a week from today (That is, on September 28th) and announce right here. No cost to you. Sounds fair, I think.

Will there be other giveaways? Absolutely. Came back from B'con with two dozen books I can't possibly read on my own. Somebody he'p me, please...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Paying Market?

Whenever there's a paying market in the crime fiction world, I pay some attention. In any event, it seems like there is a new one that'll be opening for business in a couple of weeks: Noir Nation. Here are the guidelines.

Too good to be true? No idea. Sounds lovely though.

Muppet Parody Trailer

It's probably been around the block a few times, but if you haven't seen it, click here.

The Lost Sister by Russel D. McLean

Ah, Russel McLean... What can you say about a man who grew up in a poverty so severe his family could not afford a second "L" for his first name? Only that he's a brilliant writer. I'm not a quick reader, but the latest by Mr. McLean kept me reading (not just "turning pages"...).

J. McNee is the protagonist. A Private Investigator in Scotland (where, apparently, there's only a long tradition of saying "Private Eye? No such thing in the real world...") who is asked to look into a missing girl case. Problem. The girl's godfather is also a crime godfather. And is that the main police investigator having drinks with this man?

And is one possible suspect in the disappearance a person who doesn't otherwise seem connected to the girl? And is that person mentally and emotionally unstable? In fact, there seem to be plenty of emotionally unstable people running around McLean's Dundee. In any event, it isn't too long before finding the girl involves knocking on doors the police would like him to leave alone and otherwise stepping on police toes. (Never a good idea... I dare you to try it with the next cop you meet...)
Will he find the girl? Never any question of course. What state will she be in when he does is the better question. The clock ticks and McNee launches himself into the investigation with concussion-inducing abandon*.

* He gets the concussion, not readers.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A B'Con Conversation

Of course, many conversations at B'con, but possibly the best was with a cab driver. I saw he had a stack of Harlen Coben books on his passenger seat, so I told him Coebn was at the conference, and he said he had Coben's signature, but hadn't met the man (I assume he got a signed book at one of the bookstores in town). Then he mentioned that his absolute favorite authors weren't at the conference Lee Child among them.

So I said the little I know of Lee (we've met a couple of times, but he'd be perfectly within his rights to not recall, the meetings were so fleeting). And I mentioned that Jack Reacher was destined for the big screen. The driver was happy to hear it and was about to specualte upon who should play Reacher when I told him Tom Cruise had the role (I'm pretty sure that's true). He reacted with some vehemence which is not such a great thing from a cabby.

"He's too short! He's not believable in that role. You need someone bigger, you need someone people can believe is crazy enough to do what Reacher does!"

I agreed that Tom Cruise might not work well for the role except for those who haven't read the books (which is not a small number).

"Nick Nolte!" the cabby said. "Him I would believe. He's big and he's crazy. You see him on the screen and you believe he can blow things up if you mess with him!"

I guess I'd have to agree except that Nolte is a bit long in the tooth for the role, I think.

"Or Gerard Depardieu!" the cabby continued. "Big, and I believe him. Much better actor than Tom Cruise."

True. I pointed out the accent (I couldn't tell what type accent my cabby had, but it was pronounced). He agreed, but pointed out the crazy factor was there: "You don't let me go to the bathroom? I piss on your plane..."

The rest of the ride (and it was fairly short) the cabby made an impassioned plea for Nick Nolte to play Jack Reacher. Not that I have that kind of sway...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hockensmith Sale

Steve Hockensmith is one of the great mystery short story writers. Note that there is no qualifier like "living" or "of our generation." I do not hesitate to put him up there with Chandler or (Horrors!) Doyle. In fact, those guys should consider themselves lucky if they could lick his boots... Mostly because it would mean they'd returned from the land of the dead, but still...

Anywho... Hockensmith has a new collection of short stories out there and it's at a bargain price. If you've never read Hockensmith before, now's your chance to do so on the cheap. The collection is called My Dog Needs Surgery: The Book and costs only 99 of your human cents and is worth every penny and perhaps even several more pennies besides.

Here is part of his description lifted from Amazon:

oes your dog need surgery? Yes? Oh, wow -- sorry to hear that. Because this book isn't really for you...unless you're looking for a way to escape from your (and your dog's) sorrows for a few hours.

You see, Steve Hockensmith put together this collection of mystery short stories and humorous essays because HIS dog needs surgery. Her name's Amy, and she has luxating patella. That's trick knees to you and me. Poor little thing. She's on the cover of the book, by the way. Just look into those eyes. Do you want that little cutie to develop arthritis? (That's what can happen if the knee thing isn't fixed.) You want her limping the rest of her life? Of course not! Because you're a big, pet-loving softie, just like Steve.

So what do you get for your 99 cents, aside from the satisfaction that comes from knowing you've done a deserving dog a solid? Well, how about seven mystery short stories AND seven essays about the writing life AND an introduction AND a copyright page! (O.K., the copyright page probably isn't much of a selling point. But this one's really pretty entertaining, as copyright pages go.)

It all adds up to 48,596 words of entertainment, with a guaranteed chuckle at least once every 57.9 words. (Guarantee not valid or actionable in Hawaii, Alaska or the continental U.S.) So what are you waiting for? That dog needs surgery!

Go out and get one already...

Friday, September 16, 2011

IJ Parker News...

If you've followed my rambles for any length of time, then you know I admire the writings of Ingrid Parker (IJ Parker if you're searching Amazon). She writes the Akitada mysteries (Shamus award winning if memory serves) and her sleuth is a brilliant character. "Alive" is a word that comes to mind - Akitada is alive as few characters ever get a chance to be. You feel for him, and the machinations of his mind are lifelike.

Anyway, the series has suffered from a variety of troubles at the hands of publishers - I'm thinking they simply don't have a good handle on what to do with a 10th century Japanese detective. Now, however, Parker has begun taking matters into her own hands. Kindle (and other ebook readers) allow this modicum of freedom. Here is news from Parker in her own words:

"Four of the Akitada novels (RASHOMON GATE, THE HELL SCREEN, THE MASUDA AFFAIR, and THE FIRES OF THE GODS) are now available for Kindle at a modest $ 4.99 each.

Two new Akitada stories (“Fox Magic” and “The Water Sprite”) are available for all applications at 99 cents each.

I have also released a historical trilogy, THE HOLLOW REED, on Kindle. It is set in the Japan of the Heike Wars of the late twelfth century and traces how the turbulent events of that time affected three young people. These books are available on Amazon at very modest prices.

Lastly, another new Akitada story has gone off to ALFRED HITCHCOCK MYSTERY MAGAZINE. I hope to hear something shortly.

I've read just about every short story. They are absolute gems. I'm looking forward to digging into the new material.

Headed Bouchercon Way...

Bouchercon has already started though I'd been promised that this time it wouldn't start without me. Ah well. In any event, I'll be there starting Friday morning. St. Louis is a great town from my one visit, and I hope to see a sight or two. More importantly, I hope to see a good number of my fellow writers including some I only know from blogs and such.

The panels will all be diverting, I'm sure, and I will definitely learn a thing or three about how to put together a story. I always have in the past. Can't wait for the auction either. Always a ton of fun though I've only ever bought one thing. Paid $350 in 2002 and still waiting for my wife's name to be used in one author's novel...

Anyway, this ought to be a blast. Let's see if St. Louis survives...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

If You're Going to Bouchercon...

And you happen to forget to pack a shirt, talk to me, and I'll hook you up with one of mine - Promotional, yes. But also nifty.

I'd show you a picture, but then I'd have to kill you... Actually, I'd show a picture, but then I'd have to learn how to upload a pdf file to blogger.

Friday, September 09, 2011

The Very Worst Fan Mail...

Okay. How many authors you know get hate mail from terrorists? Just one.

Got an email about three months or more back from someone who used to like my writing. He represents (or used to represent) a Puerto Rican group called Los Macheteros (that is, Those Who Handle Machetes - a sort of rustic terror, I suppose). The FBI considers this group to be a terrorist organization, some Puerto Ricans consider them freedom fighters, but, to be clear, they have killed for their cause, they've set bombs, shot people down, violently destroyed government property.

I mentioned them in my fourth PRECINCT PUERTO RICO novel. In fact, much of the novel is taken up with the inhabitants of Angustias scared out of their minds that LOS MACHETEROS might launch an attack on the children of Angustias. Someone has kidnapped a child in a neighboring town and killed her. LOS MACHETEROS supposedly claim the act as theirs, children in Angustias go missing, tensions rise, etc.

Now it is true that in their history, LOS MACHETEROS have never been accused of kidnapping or harming children. On the other hand, they've left bombs in public places so not harming children is by the grace of God, not due to the scruples of LOS MACHETEROS. Anywho...

So I get this email from a lawyer accusing me of libel. Essentially maliciously hurting their reputation in print. Now, clear works of fiction are often exempt from charges of libel, though I suspect not always.

I was also told I was "beneath contempt." Not really news to those who know me, but it stings a little when it comes from a lawyer... I was told I was pretty much a traitor to the people of Puerto Rico (an island and a people I dearly love).

I responded. Maybe not a good idea. I pointed out how difficult it is to damage the reputation of an organization the FBI considers to be a terrorist organization. Not to mention the very few people who will have read my book. I offered the lawyer a copy of my latest PRECINCT PUERTO RICO novel. Free. I await a reply, but it has been some months now...

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Crimespree and Me

Yes, yes. The rumors are true. I've been co-opted by the powers that be. Which powers be they you ask? The powers of CRIMESPREE MAGAZINE.

In the past, I've been content to read the magazine, to be published in the magazine (more times than I can easily recall, but at least three short stories) and even to advertise in the magazine. Now I will be an editor. And not the looking for comma errors type of editing either. I'm editing fiction... Making sure even the most hardboiled and noirish stories have happy endings... Okay, maybe my powers don't extend that far.

In any event, the Jordans are all packing for St. Louis as they'll be hosting the Bouchercon this year, but I suspect I'll be added to their contact page later this month. Then, if you have a highly polished crime based story, you might send it my way. Not that you can't send it now, but the contact info at the Crimespree website will have it go to the lovely and talented Jennifer Jordan first. That works.

More later.

Anyway, thought I'd mention it here since I'm not doing anything else...

My Kindle stats

I wish I could do one of those nifty screen grabs and show precisely how much I've made from Kindle just so far this month. I'm pretty sure it would require using the right mouse button, no? But then my laptop doesn't have a mouse so I'd just be lost. In any event, I can certainly sum it up in layman's terms. So far in September I've sold one (1) Kindle. It was a copy of Killing Ways.

From this bit of raw data I am forecasting that I will sell a total of four (4) Kindles for the month. This is down sharply from the six (6) Kindles I sold in August and continues a trend since I did sell about ten (10) in July and (I believe) fourteen (14) in June.

If I do, in fact sell four Kindles this month, they will bring me in a total of about $1.40 for the month. On the bright side, Joe Konrath would remind me that Kindles will earn me $1.40 every month for the rest of my life, which if I live to be 90 means I'll get a total of about $806.40. This doesn't count interest I'll be earning along the way, of course.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Writing Now

Not much, really. I mean I have something like seven novels started and one being rewritten. The rewrite is taking way too long as I've pretty much fallen out of love with the book. Ah well. And finding an hour to write is near impossible. I know. Make time. Right. Let me put that on my list of things to make...

And I need to turn THE CONCRETE MAZE into Kindling. That'll take me about forty hours. (Rough estimate.)

Here's what's on deck:

1 - Viktor Petrenko novel (53k done; out of 70k?)
2 - Another Viktor Petrenko novel (43k done)
3 - Isaac Newton novel (30k out of 70k done)
4 - Female serial killer (30k out of 60k)
5 - Ray Cruz novel (10k out of 70k)
6 - Medieval Fantasy (5k out of God knows how many, but I'm liking it this week...)
7 - Can't remember... That's not the title, I just can't recall.

2012 ought to be awesome...

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Joining the Not-Ready-to-Die Club

Or more properly, the not-ready-to-die-but-never-going-to-eat-right club. That is, jogging. My goodness it's tremendously difficult. Not really a surprise. I wasn't avoiding jogging because I thought it was too easy. I had heard rumors that it made you sweat. True. And that you could come away all achy. Also true. I haven't yet tested the "serious injury" rumor.

I've also heard of "runner's high" or "runner's euphoria." While I don't think you can properly call what I do "running," there is a chance I've experienced this especially if "runner's high" is something like gasping for air until you feel almost ready to vomit. If that is, in fact, the case, then I've been there a few times. Don't see the attraction really.

On a serious note, however, I'm 230 pounds and have been for years. I've been jogging thrice weekly for about two months and while I know I'm healthier and I fit into my clothes better (tent-like as most of my wardrobe is) I haven't lost an ounce. Not if you can trust the little Wii Fit gremlin that tells me I'm obese every week. Last few weeks I haven't bothered to ask his opinion on the matter. Like I said, I'm healthier.

Signs of health:

* I "ran" two and a quarter miles on Friday without pausing for water or air or to check over my shoulder to see if the Grim Reaper was still behind me. I've never in my years jogged a mile let alone two before this past Friday. I'd never done more than a half mile in my first two months of working at it, then I just decided to see how far I could get and I surprised myself.

* The flights of stairs at work are much easier to handle. Still not as easy as taking the elevator, but getting there.

* My tinnitus is much reduced. Could be unrelated since my former doctor thought it was Psychosomatic anyway, but it is improved, that I'm sure of.

In any event, I contemplate running in a 5 mile race later this year. We'll see.