Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Davy Jones Dies...

Talk about a downbeat... Lead singer for The Monkees and I don't think it's too much to say a cultural icon. One less Daydream Believer in the world, and that can't be a good thing.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stuyvesant High School

There's an article online with the New York Times about being black in Stuyvesant High School. If you're not familiar, Stuyvesant High School - Stuy High - is one of the top high schools in New York City and, I'd venture, the country. It's a public school. You take a test to get in. Lucy Liu graduated from it. If you're a mystery reader then so did Rebecca Pawel. And myself.

The focus is on math and science. Sorry I can't say I was any great shakes in either field. Lots of great scientists graduated from Stuyvesant including Nobel Laureates. One of them, Joshua Lederberg, spoke at my graduation. Anywhoo...

It turns out that the current crop of Stuy students has a demographic skew that's really pronounced - more than 70% of students are of Asian descent. Less than 5% are black or Latino. 20+% are white. NYC is more than 50% black and Latino, so why isn't this reflected in admissions and attendance at Stuyvesant?

I'm not sure. Best guess, however, is that it is not Stuyvesant's fault. Though the place is a little bit of a pressure cooker - some students see high school as a competition - at other schools that translates into making the football team, wearing the best clothes, running for office, binge drinking. At Stuyvesant it was about grades, chalking things up for your resume, test prep, getting grants, getting internships, getting into the college of everyone's dreams. And then all the rest.

It seems to me that the problem (and there is a problem) is the NYC school system. A system that has always been sub-par. Not to say there aren't great teachers. There are. Not enough of them, but that's every system's complaint. It just seems to me that enough isn't expected of students (the low end of the totem pole) and administrators (the tippie-top of the totem pole) and everyone in between. "Aim low, and you'll achieve your goal" seems to be the motto, no?

When I was in junior high school, my home room teacher took time out to explain the terrors that awaited us if we took the exam to get into Stuyvesant and actually were to be admitted. "It'll eat you alive!" she said though perhaps without the exclamation mark.

The solution? I don't have one except to aim higher. Easier said than done.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The free story...

Don't forget - if you want one of my best stories free of charge for your Kindle, today is the day for that. THE VALLEY OF ANGUSTIAS. You can't get a better deal unless I pay you to read it. Which I won't do...

Looking for a Free E-book?

Try THE VALLEY OF ANGUSTIAS. It's available today as a free Kindle. In case you're wondering, it is the earliest set story in my PRECINCT PUERTO RICO series. In it, the sheriff is not yet a sheriff; he's just a college grad trying to figure out why people are getting beaten in his village.

12,500 words, and the best introduction to my series.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Free E-book Ploy, Part IV

On Friday, February 24th, You'll have the chance to download a free kindle novella - THE VALLEY OF ANGUSTIAS. You can use the free Kindle app for phone or Mac or PC. And if you like the story, you might download my collection of stories based in Puerto Rico called THE PRECINCT PUERTO RICO FILES. This collection includes the novella, but don't blame me for that. Just think of it as having twice as much of a good thing...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My 50 Kindle Goal

Okay, I topped fifty Kindles sold this month. That's big news for me, and I'm happy. Happy and greedy. How about sixty? (I'm at 54 now.) I'll make it. Pretty sure. Giving away one of my titles this Friday. That ought to boost a few more sales. Okay, here's my new goal for February - 75 sales. 21 for the week remaining. Here are a couple of titles that won't be given away this month:

The Concrete Maze

Hard-boiled, Noir this book is a look at the consequences of just one simple mistake...

When 13-year-old Jasmine Ramos goes missing, one man, her father, races desperately to save her from the horrors of life and death on the streets of New York City. Can he rescue his daughter from the pitiless concrete maze, or will he be swallowed whole?

The Precinct Puerto Rico Files

Ten tales featuring heroes from the Precinct Puerto Rico series of novels.
UFO - When a senior citizen reports a UFO has crashed into the woods behind his house, Sheriff Luis Gonzalo isn't in too much of a hurry to investigate, but it isn't long before the town begins to change, and it seems Gonzalo is the only one who isn't in on the secret.
Rolling Rivera - Wheelchair-bound Rivera was a nasty piece of work. Now it seems someone may have used the chair against him.
The Inspector - When a meat inspector goes missing in town, Sheriff Gonzalo learns the man had cultivated more than his fair share of enemies.
Caring for Jose - Rachel Matos claims to have killed her husband, Jose, with one swing of a frying pan, but Sheriff Gonzalo had tussled with the man often enough to know it would take more than that to bring him down.
The Driver - What could have been a routine stop, turns into an all out chase.
Fiesta - One of Sheriff Gonzalo's colleagues notices a suspicious pair of young men at a town party, but how can she get them to talk before the last song is sung?
The Tent of Babel - This story takes one of Sheriff Gonzalo's colleagues back to his time as a prisoner of war in the Korean War.
David - A little boy goes missing just as Hurricane David approaches the island, and Sheriff Gonzalo and his team race to find him.
Angustias, Puerto Rico, 1970 - When one of the more venerated ladies of the town is brutally murdered, Gonzalo races to catch the culprit before it happens again.
The Valley of Angustias - In his very first case, even before becoming sheriff, Luis Gonzalo tries to figure out why citizens of Angustias are being beaten when they don't seem to be connected.

Friday, February 17, 2012

I Heard the News Today, Oh Boy...

There's no way to tell how much Gary Carter meant to die hard Mets fans in the mid 1980s. What with Daryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden and Keith Hernandez putting up good numbers, acquiring Carter gave fans the sense the team was a serious contender. And for once it wasn't a false hope. In 1986, he led the way to a world championship. He hit like the Hall of Famer he was and caught a relatively inexperienced pitching staff and made them all look better. Didn't he hit a game-winning homerun in his first game with the Mets? And he smiled. Always. Nothing fake. The Kid. My God what a great name for such a man. Then a tumor in his brain. In the last months, Carter's been out of the public eye. That's to be expected. But even months after his diagnosis and the word that this wasn't one of those things that doctors can help with - a death sentence in essence - The Kid kept smiling, kept working for his charities as much as he could, kept upbeat, kept his faith. Baseball hero? Of course. And so much more. I miss the man though I didn't know him. That's a testimony, no?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Shakira NOT Bitten By Sea Lion...

The well-known and multitalented Colombian singer/dancer approached a sea lion in South Africa and it approached her. The sea lion did not bite her, and she did not bite it. The sea lion bellowed and she screamed in return. "I thought it was going to kill me," she said ("she" being Shakira) "but then it didn't." The sea lion had no comment. Both singer and sea lion are alive and well though not on speaking terms. You can read the full story HERE, but you won't get much more than I've told you already.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Free E-book Redux

If you're looking for some humor, I've got THE DEVIL'S SNARE for free on Kindle for the rest of today. Really. What have you got to lose?

Thursday, February 09, 2012

To Hell with Dickens...

Don't get me wrong. I love his novels and the man's story can be quite inspiring. But he turned 200 years old a couple of days ago. Celebrate if you like. In fact, if you like novels, definitely do celebrate - Dickens did a lot to make novels in general what they are today. But please, I beg of you on bended knee, don't celebrate by buying another copy of Oliver Twist (great as that book is).

I'm not 200. Just 42. And still living. Want to buy a novel? Try THE CONCRETE MAZE. Less than a buck. It's also my favorite of the ones I've written.

Don't want my book? Try Russel McLean's Sam Bryson stories - Scottish Private Investigator with a heart of gold and a skull of solid rock since he gets hit so often.

Or try I.J. Parker's Akitada and the Way of Justice. A 10th century Japanese detective.

Or Iain Rowan's collection of nastiness, Nowhere to Go

Or really anyone else who isn't dead yet...

Free E-book

I put up one of my short stories as a Kindle last year. It's called The Devil's Snare: A Comedy - kind of a Screwtape Letters story. You can borrow it now if you're one of those Amazon Prime members I hear about. Or you can download it free today, Feb. 9th and tomorrow. Just click here.

Here's a brief description: The Devil himself narrates about his deal with 72 year-old Edith Porter.

Friday, February 03, 2012

The Free E-book Ploy, Part III

Okay, there's my free e-book, KILLING WAYS 2 (get it now before you forget - I might extend the sale, but technically, it ends today) and if you like that (or just gritty, noir type stories) there is also my full-length novel THE CONCRETE MAZE. I've dropped the price on it to $.99.

So, right now you could get two books for less than a dollar.

So, America is a great country. What else is new?

Cracking the German Market

Finally. I reported my first reader from Spain. Now I can report the first download by a German customer. Could it be the irresistible price of KILLING WAYS 2? Yes, probably. Still, neat to know at least two people on the continent know my name.

Not to mention I've made nine regular sales - Will I double the twenty-seven sales I wound up making in January? I think I will.

The Free E-book Ploy, Part II

All day today, some of my best stories are free to you if you have a Kindle device or a Kindle app for your PC, Mac, phone, microwave or wristwatch. These are the six stories collected in an anthology I called KILLING WAYS 2 (because KILLING WAYS was already taken - by me. It's also a fine collection, just not free. Less than a buck, though...).

Here's a description taken straight from Amazon:

Hard luck, hard knock, hot and cold blooded killers, criminals, and the people they collide with.

1 - The Biography of Stoop, the Thief - Chapter One: Stoop and Clyde. Stupendous Jones has had a hard life from the day he was born, but can he (as a twelve year old) save the life of the only guardian he's ever known? Should he even try?

2 - The Biography of Stoop, the Thief - Chapter Three: Stoop and Elizabeth. Stoop finally finds the woman he thinks is his mother, but will the cost of saving her from her own demons be too high for a young boy to pay? Publisher's Weekly called the story "moving." I challenge you to disagree.

3 - Bronx, Summer, 1971 - Ray Cruz hurts people for a living. When family members are found murdered, it's a race against the police to find the guilty and make them pay.

4 - Padrino - Ray Cruz is back, and his goddaughter has been brutally attacked. She's not sure who beat her, but Ray makes it his mission to find out.

5 - Elena Speaks of the City, Under Siege - It's a city under siege and you are young, beautiful and smart. But can you make it out of the city before your sanity crumbles like the infrastructure? And what would you do once you've left?

6 - Early Fall - Yolanda Morales comes across a young runaway who calls herself "Jasmine" and tries to save her from a life on the streets even if she doesn't want to be saved. But what can one determined woman do when the rich and reckless come to the city looking for prey?

Note that the second story in the group was nominated for a Derringer by the Short Mystery Fiction Society. The fifth story won a Derringer. The sixth story was included in BRONX NOIR, edited by SJ Rozan. Stories one and three were published by Crimespree Magazine. Story four ran in PLOTS WITH GUNS.

Every story has a pedigree, so it's not like I'm asking you to clog up your Kindle with crap...

Just so you know, the second story was published in an anthology - UNCAGE ME! edited by the lovely and talented Jennifer Jordan for Bleak House. Publishers Weekly called my story "the most moving." And they meant it in a good way.

Thursday, February 02, 2012


Since putting KILLING WAYS 2 up for free on Amazon, I've gotten a fair number of new readers which is, of course, great, but there's one reader in particular I wish I knew more about. Somebody in Spain downloaded the book. I've never had a reader in Spain. Of course, for all I know, this might be a person who happens to be passing through Spain with their Kindle - the world is funny that way now, everything being digital, etc. In any event, glad for the new readers. Ole!

Hope this means good news for when I get the rights back to my PRECINCT PUERTO RICO series...

Also a half dozen downloads from the UK.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Free E-book Ploy, Part I

Here's a free E-book for you (as long as you have a Kindle or Kindle app...). Download it. Tell your friends. Tell your enemies. Tell those of your cousins you're feeling ambivalent about. Free until Feb. 3rd. Not free after that.

Cover to follow on the next post. And, yes, descriptions of the stories, etc.

Unless this actually works... Then maybe free a couple more days later in the year.