Saturday, November 30, 2013

First Review for Frisky Business!!!

Kayla West from the Book a Day blog is the first to post a review of Frisky Business and it's a terrific review!  She says:

Sasha Jackson is extremely relatable (or is that just me) in the fact that she kind of gets in these weird and awkward, but very effective, situations in order to find her killers.  loved her, and could not get enough of her personality in this book.Officially I am on the Sasha Jackson train, and I am going to have to check out the earlier novels, because one book just is not enough!

Yay!  Happy dance!

Read the whole review HERE.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Guest Author at Living a Life of Writing

Today, I'm a guest blogger over at Rebecca Emrich's blog: Living a Life of Writing.  

In the post, I talk about being on duty 24-7, and how there's no "punch clock" for authors.  

Drop by HERE and have a look.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Interview at Peace, Love and Writing Blog


I was recently interviewed by Prudence Hayes or her blog: Peace, Love and Writing.  She asked me about such topics as character development, reviews, and influences.  Drop by her blog HERE and have a look.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Fiction Dreams Guest Blog

I am happy to say that Suzy Turner of the Fiction Dreams Blog recently invited me to be a guest.  I shared with her a character profile of PI Sasha Jackson.  For readers who haven't met Sasha yet, you'll find out a bit about what I think makes her real, makes her easy to relate to.  I mean, really, hasn't everyone been shot in the boobs, or been involved in a buck naked catfight?

Read the whole post HERE.

And follow Suzy on Twitter  @suzy_turner

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Guest Post on Villains at Her Ladyship's Quest

Today, I have a guest post over at Tracy Falbe's blog.  In it, I talk about easy ways to make your villain really unlikable.

It's actually kind of easy: Just think of all the guys your Dad didn't want you to date!

Have a look at the blog  HERE.

Monday, November 25, 2013

First Interview for Frisky Business!

YAY!  My first interview for Frisky Business has just been published.  I had a cool exchange with Amy Steele of  

Amy regularly writes about books, music and movies, and she asked me some great questions.  

Read the interview HERE

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Just Released! Frisky Business, the NEW Sasha Jackson Mystery, is now available!



This time around, PI Sasha Jackson is investigating the murder of a porn star...  

The drug addicted girl was a worthless nobody, so the cops aren't putting much effort into finding out who killed her.  Sasha takes on the case, and learns that the dirty picture business is way dirtier than it seems.  She discovers surprising motives and even more surprising secrets, and just when she thinks she's solved the case, another dead body turns up.  

Meanwhile, Sasha's private life is a shambles.  Her brother is pissing her off, Sasha's love-life is on the rocks, and her BFF has her nose out of joint over Sasha's latest revelations.   And then there's the driving instructor, the locksmith and the glazier.  Let's just say it's a good thing that Sasha has a credit card.  

Why can't everyone just chill out long enough for Sasha to get in a good jam session, or have a good night's sleep?  

Oh, for crying out loud, pass the Scotch...

Get your copy of FRISKY BUSINESS 

now from AMAZON.  

PI Sasha Jackson: She's a beautiful mess, 
but you should see the other guy... 

Friday, November 22, 2013

It's Kind Of Like Your High School Reunion...

Getting into a good book is like going to your high school reunion.  You’ve maintained close friendships and frequent contact with many people, you have a chance to reconnect with someone you thought had fallen off the face of the Earth,  of course,  there are a couple people there whom you never liked in the first place, and there are a few you just never really paid attention to – they were probably in the chess club or some other nerdy thing ;-)
Your books have these relationships as well...
The bit above is from my guest post today on Emily Hill's blog.  Click HERE to read the rest.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Nope to TV

This isn't the happiest blog post I've ever written, but perhaps there is a silver lining...  

As of today, I have chosen to cut ties with The Nightingale Company, the production company that optioned the Sasha Jackson Mysteries for development as a TV series.  It is, of course, disappointing that Sasha won't be in everyone's living rooms tomorrow night during prime time ;-)  I know the folks at Nightingale were enthusiastic about the project, but it seems it was not meant to be.  Maybe I'll find a better fit somewhere down the road... 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Writing and the Senses

"In a perfect world, every author would pen books that totally grab your attention from start to finish, eyes glued to the page, you just can’t put it down!  However, even among my favorite books and favorite authors, there are times that my mind wanders.  I get distracted by a noise.  My neighbor is baking a cake that smells delicious.  I shift uncomfortably in my chair.  I feel a draft and get up to close the window.

Each of those little interruptions causes a reader to break – even momentarily – with the book.  Every little distraction pulls the reader out of the story...."

The above few lines are the start of a guest piece I did today on Regina Puckett's blog.   To read the full post, click HERE.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Hey! What's a Police Procedural? by guest author Mar Preston

You like cop shows? Sure, you do. There’s no mystery about TV police procedurals. Think of Castle, NCIS, the Criminal Mind. Then there’s the classics like NYPD and Hill Street Blues.   

In book form, cop shows are called police procedurals. Police procedurals tell the story of the crime from the point of view of the detectives solving crimes, whether it’s Law and Order or The Wire, which balances the story between the good guys, the cops--and the criminals.

I write two series of police procedurals, one set in the Santa Monica Police Department, the other in a fictional mountain village in Central California. The Santa Monica cop is a city homicide detective: in the village series, the crimes are solved by a Bakersfield Sheriff’s Department Deputy working homicide and a lowly security patrol officer.

I’ll bet you’ve always wanted to see behind the blue curtain into the real life of the working detective. Not the time sheets, writing reports, and budget stuff. Just the moments of fast action that makes your heart race. But before you sit down to write a police procedural, get your facts straight. City police departments don’t usually patrol country roads: the sheriff’s department does.

But say you don’t want to write a police procedural. You’d just like to snag some time for yourself and curl up with a good page turner.

Here’s how you can tell in the first chapter whether you’ve got a good one or not: 
  • Does the murder or the crime happen in the first few pages?
  • Do you know right away who the good guy is? Do you like him? Or her?
  • Can you immediately tell the difference between the characters?
  • Do you know what this story is going to be about in the first chapter, usually the first twenty pages?
  • Is the end of the first chapter a real cliff hanger?

If the answer is yes to all of these, chances are you’re not going to turn off the light and go to sleep. 

Mar Preston’s police procedurals can be found on AMAZON.  Visit her website HERE.  And you can find her on Twitter @YesMarPreston and on Facebook .  

Also:  Here’s a link to Stop You’re Killing Me, a great site that pulls together everything you’d like to know about mysteries, police procedurals included. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Changed My Mind...

I guess this is akin to buyer's remorse.  After much thought, many mock-ups, and far too many revisions, I believed I had chosen the cover for Frisky Business.  

But in the interim weeks, I've had second thoughts... I decided that I did not like the colour scheme as much as I'd first thought, and something about the style just didn't feel right, maybe because the earlier choice didn't really seem to indicate "movies" (which is the major backdrop of the story)...

So, I sent out another call out to for some new designs.  I'm 99% sure I'll go with one of the four below.





For comparison's sake, here's the old one that I had initially decided to use, but I won't go with it after all, at least I don't think so:


You can see some of the earlier mock-ups HERE and some more HERE.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Killer Shoes? (Part Two)

More pics of odd shoes from around the web.

These seem like they ought to be in a James Bond movie.

Okay, if those are brass knuckles in the heel, they may not be accessible enough to be useful...
I'm just sayin'...

Wow!   And I thought the last pair on the previous post were indescribable...
Finally, a pair for the good side.

You dirty rat!

Yet another pair of shoes that can double as a weapon.

OOOH!  I'd actually like to get a pair of these!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Killer Shoes? (Part One)

From here and there around the Internet...

Ugh.  Gross.  Hannibal Lecter.

Really kick-ass shoes for a kick-ass private eye... Spenser maybe?  

I can think of any number of villains who could wear these.

Totally Femme Fatale! 

For a Gothic whodunit...

The characters in THE LIES HAVE IT could have worn these.

These could be worn by some of the characters in FRISKY BUSINESS...

I have no words for these.  They're just so wrong.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Update: Blood and Groom

I've decided to go with this one as the new cover for Blood and Groom.  I like the style and colouring.  I think it matches the content of the book, and it's in keeping with the design for the other books in the series.  Yay!  Happy to have it!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Gender Neutral Job Titles and Frisky Business

I'm being pre-emptive with this post... 

Frisky Business will be released soon.  It's the fourth book in the Sasha Jackson Mysteries series.  This time around, PI Sasha Jackson is investigating the death of a porno star.

No doubt, someone will comment on the fact that throughout the book, I refer to the female porn stars as ACTRESSES rather than using the gender neutral term ACTOR.  

This was a deliberate choice.

One of the themes in Frisky Business is the exploitation of women in the sex trade in general, but particularly in the world of XXX films.  

Yes, I am sure that many people who work in that industry get treated poorly, regardless of gender.  But, I think it's a fair comment to say that women are exploited more often than men in this milieu.  So, in recognition of that and to draw a distinction, I have used the term ACTRESS when I am talking about the females.  

Friday, November 8, 2013

New Cover for Blood and Groom?

I was never a fan of the original cover for Blood and Groom.  It was my first book, and the publisher chose the cover.  Since I'd never published a book before, I went along with their choice (what did I know?  In fact, what do I know even now?)   I understand why the publisher chose the image they did, but I've had some negative feedback about it since day one.  

So, I'd love to know what you folks think of these samples, each created by a different designer.  I asked the designers to come up with something  similar in style and tone to the covers for Dead Light District and The Lies Have It.  

Which of these  do you prefer?  Should I go with one of the covers below, or ask for more sample from other designers?  (I've looked at so many cover samples for this book, as well as for Frisky Business, that I can no longer see straight!)   In all designs below, I think the page background is a bit to yellowy. However, in all cases, the font size. style, and colour is okay (and it would be easy to change that anyway...)

#1 - Dance 

#2 - Dripping

#3 - Fingerprint

#4 Red Background

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Not Quite the Rainbow I was Looking For, by guest author Frank Zubek

Not quite the rainbow I was looking for…. 
By Frank Zubek

   We all have a book inside of us. So they say. Here is my story.

   I started writing in 1999 and to date, I have made sixty dollars. And the bulk of that has been just in the past two years from Kindle. I started out submitting to traditional publishers and in the end, wound up on Kindle. And all that time, if I accomplished nothing else, I was getting very good at the work ethic needed in order to be an author. Successful writing requires the same dedication as any day job, if not more.

   On December of 2008, I did it. I got published on Every Day Fiction and earned myself  
three dollars. And remember, we’re talking starting this long journey in 1999. Rent, car payments, food, clothing, the electric bill that keeps the laptop humming, all have to be paid every month. I really don’t recommend quitting the day job.

    One advantage to Kindle as opposed to traditional publishing is that instead of stuffing an envelope and waiting up to three months for a response, a writer could submit the same material to Amazon and – in theory- within 24 hours, have the POTENTIAL of making hard cash from their creative work.

   Interested in self- publishing? It isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are the same important steps to take as there are to submitting to traditional publishers. Kindle is just another way to read someone’s story. You should do some research first and I recommend the kindle boards:  a community of kindle writers who help and encourage each other.

   First, you need a manuscript. If you haven’t yet, I’ll say this, the faster you can produce at least two or three finished pages per day, the sooner you’ll be able to edit it and send it off.

    You finish the manuscript, right? Great. Have a total stranger read it. Find a local writing group or maybe pay a local English teacher who loves to read. Maybe you have a Meet Up group nearby.   And don’t become close friends. You need them to cut your story apart to improve it, not to have them over for weekend picnics.

   Now you need to find a good editor you can trust. And yes, they do average a few bucks a page or by chapter. But do your own math. Work within a budget and do homework on the genre you are in. Don’t spend $ 2,000.00 for an editor when the book you will publish (depending on the genre), will be selling for $2.99 and only bring in fourteen sales a month. Unless that’s okay with you long term. Your choice.

   During the editing process, ask these questions. Can my story be improved? Tighter? Expanded? Does my dialogue need work? Do I describe enough of each scene? Do I really need this chapter? Do the characters each have their own pattern of speech? And this is tough one…Should I just scrap the whole thing and start over?   

    Now if this is a self- published book you need a cover. Ask around and don’t go over your budget. A good cover can be had for under a few hundred dollars. I have done my own cover by using free public domain photos and typing in my own titles, though it is best to find a pro. I do what I do because I am quite broke. I do sell copies of my stories, but chances are I’d do better with professional artwork.

   But then again, this is why I am here talking to you. Maybe you can get further than I did. Maybe you can excel where I failed. Take notes.

   Now mind you I don’t want to sound like I’m whining. I am trying to sound realistic.
This self- publishing stuff is hard work. For one thing, with self-publishing, you don’t have a publisher backing you and flying you to a dozen cities for book signings. Even the lucky few who get published don’t automatically get royal treatment like that. Granted, that DOES happen. But truthfully, you’ll have better odds with winning the lottery.

   So self-publishing sounds a bit better. I have more control, right? To a degree, yes, you do. But remember, being self published means YOU run the show. YOU are the marketing department. YOU have to make up e-mail lists. YOU have to think up guest-blog campaigns. YOU have to keep track of sales and taxes. YOU have to update the face book blurbs. John Jones isn’t there to back you up if you call in sick.
   But then, you may be squeamish about self- publishing. That’s understandable.
“I like the feel of paper.” Fine. Draw up a dozen query letters and send them off.

   I’ll even give you a one time saving tip. If you really want to try the traditional route, the smart thing to do is submit to publishers or agents who accept e-mailed simultaneous submissions. There is an annual Writers Guide that has updated addresses. This cuts down a bit on your waiting period. If you exhaust those, THEN start licking stamps.

    Still with me? Lets take a hard look at traditional publishing numbers.

    Let’s imagine the moment. You did it. You got published. Now if you weren’t aware, your book has to be scheduled in the printing pipeline, which can take six months to a year. But to speed things up here we’ll flash forward to the big day. It’s Tuesday. Your book is out there on store shelves. You’ve managed a small interview in the local paper or an interview with a local college station. THE READING PUBLIC is well aware your book is on sale today.

     But the reality of it is this: The book has maybe three weeks to sell. If not, there are a number of other books waiting in line for YOUR spot on the shelf. It’s not personal, its business. The bookstore, after a few weeks, HAS to send your book back for credit to make room for dozens and dozens of other books. After all, the book coming out next might make them money whereas yours didn’t. Which isn’t your fault. That’s just the nature of this business.

   Luckily, these days, a traditional book is published in hardcover and e-book. But even so, the publisher may not provide a marketing budget for you, so you’d better be on Twitter and Facebook letting people know the e-book version is out there as this may help sales. Still, your book is competing with not only a few dozen other books on actual shelves, but with a few HUNDRED e-books PER WEEK on Kindle- many of them in the same genre! Maybe with better covers! Maybe a dollar or two less than what your book is selling for!

   And to stay balanced here, this goes for the self-published folks too. Each of them had to really work at getting where they are. Yes, a few dozen of them have absolutely made thousands of dollars a month from their books on Kindle and they were able to go into work and put in a two week notice and they haven’t looked back.

    Heck, that was MY dream. But I’m still working the day job. And every day I hammer out a page or two. I ignore the wife, skip some meals, lose some sleep and the whole time I ask myself questions…. Will the fantasy novel I’m working on for next year sell?  Will my sales double if I also release the book as an audio book? (so far, no).  Should I go back to cartooning?

   Please pay attention to me. This thing called writing is NOT easy. You have to sit at the computer and type. And retype and re-edit and retype some more. You have to decide to go traditional and wait for a response or try self- publishing and work even harder to just get a few sales. For all I know you’ll get lucky on the first try. If so, congrats.
   And no matter which route you may choose, you need to be writing the next book.    Writing takes tenacity and dedication and sacrifice. Much, much more than you might ever think. Best of luck to each of you, you’ll certainly need it.  But it's worth it.  We wouldn't do it if we didn't love it.

Frank Zubek is based in Ohio, and his stories and novellas can be found here:  Frank can be reached by email at . Check out his books on Amazon by clicking HEREFollow him on Twitter @FrankZubek

Monday, November 4, 2013

Author Emily Hill Offers Ten Great Tips for Indie Writers

For quite a while now I've wanted to inventory what I have learned from the efforts of being an IndieAuthor over the past four years. So I am grateful for Jill’s generosity and hope that my guest blog will save you time and frustration as you journey down your own path as an Indie.

"Ten Things to Know About IndiePub"

One.  Readers want to be able to ‘escape’ on multiple levels into the world you’ve created for them through your fiction.  That means using music scores, book trailers and other audio and visual aids that brings your story to life for them.  [for this purpose I use Pinterest, YouTube, FlipSnack, and scoredwebsites.]

You will see a lot of innovative, energetic authors trying new software, programs, events and
activities to promote their books.  Don’t dismiss ANY of them.  Do what you, as a writer, do best: Be curious.  Get behind the scenes and ask, “How did they do that?” even if their book is on a topic that might not interest you – how they got your attention should!

Two.  Readers will want to be friends with you.  Use social networking-engagement to check in on the welfare and activities of your readers.  Be reciprocal, not egotistical!

Three.  Your REAL personality should match your social networking, and blogging personality; and all messages should come close to matching your genre.  Imagine Marilyn Monroe, with her baby talk voice, being the author of an academic tome on physics.  It wouldn’t work unless Einstein was at her side egging her on.  Stay True To You. Caveat: Unless you’re John Locke (a husband and father) egging women readers on as Donovan Creed. If it’s your character’s personae you can point your finger at . . . have fun!

Four.  Never publish an ebook title that you have not word-for-word edited ON PAPER. Editing solely from a computer screen is begging for trouble. I am publishing a book soon that I printed out and realized that I had pasted Chapter Ten into the eManuscript twice. Yikes!

As excited as you are to get your work out to your readers, proceeding ploddingly slowly and doing it right is better than slapping-up and realizing too late that your work is fraught with mistakes like using ‘the’ where it should read ‘they’.

Five.  Buying advertising does NOT work on ANY level effectively enough to invest more than token pennies on ads, and only if your most ardent backer is offering a ‘deal’.  Personal relationships, and recommendations, equate directly to book sales.  Build your tribe. Caveat: If you MUST, the ‘best’ deal for book release advertising is BookBuzzr, Goodreads, and Facebook. But reciprocal blog tours are the friendliest way to share your book news, in my opinion.

Six.  LIKE your Readers.  Really. Like. Them.  Write in a genre, or on a topic, that interests you enough personally that it is ‘a natural’ to engage via Facebook, Twitter, and through your blog with the people who also like your topic.  One big reason I left Confederate history behind and moved into the supernatural genre is because it was such a better fit for me personally.  I’m proud of my debut [Civil War] novel, but it’s easier to move in and out of the supernatural genre, because it’s a topic that is second nature to me.

Seven.  Be as professional as you can afford to be.  For each of your titles project/pencil out what you believe your first-year royalty income will be, based on your commitment to carve out time for book marketing.  Then, spend 10% of that royalty projection on a) cover design; b) professional editing; and c) ads/book trailers (I use iStock for my photos, videos, and scores). 

For instance: If you think your ebook should earn $6,000 the first year compute thusly e.g. $6000 minus the ‘royalty split’ to distribution vendors Kindle, Nook, Smashwords = $1800 [your NET is $4200]. Therefore, my recommendation is that authors spend $420 on production costs netting, after aggressive marketing, a ‘take’ of $3780 the first year.  Work out YOUR formula and stay loyal to it.  Scrimping on production in these competitive times is going to make the contrast between your DIY eBook and professional authors coming over to IndiePub even more stark.

Eight.  Be a Mentor to emerging IndieAuthors.  It’s karma. 

Nine.  The *-one-star.   Now that you are ‘in the biz’ don’t ever, EVER *-one-star a book.  And don’t ‘go after’ or ‘stalk’ a *-one-star reviewer who duns you.  Once you become an author, you give up the delight of dive-bombing a book with your skanky one-star.  A lot of authors do the ‘genealogy’ on one-stars and are able to discover authors who have hired guns shooting down the competition. I guarantee, word WILL get out.

Ten.  The Orphanage.  Don’t leave any orphans on the ‘sales line’.  I cannot even begin to count the number of books that are Indie Pub’bed and then never marketed.  If you’re not going to put forth a respectable marketing effort for your books, take them down.  If you’re leaving the pub scene, even for a number of months, ‘unpublish’ your eBooks; let them cool off and come back with a new product description, a fresh eBook cover, something that rejuvenates your efforts.

Wishing You Each ‘The Best’ that the literary world has to offer!

*  *  *

Emily Hill writes in the Supernatural genre and publishes her paperbacks and eBooks on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.  Visit her website located at:

Emily’s latest eBook:  Voodoo Vision: New Orleans House of Spirits, a 2012 NaNoWriMo winner, is now available on Kindle US  Kindle UK, and Smashwords

Follow her on Twitter @24GhostTales 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Holy Grail or Fool's Gold? by guest author Caro Soles

Writing Classes:  
Holy Grail or Fool's Gold?
by Caro Soles

The only way to learn how to write is to plunk oneself on a  chair and start  typing. What happens next will show whether or not you have what it takes.

Or what happens next will be, in the vernacular, a hot mess. And depression.

Or you might read those first fine careless pages the next day and fall in love with your words. And that way lies certain disaster.

One can spend years typing oneself in and out of depression, elation and frustration, and eventually one can learn the craft after trial and error and the reading of many books on writing. This was my method. Looking back I figure I spent the equivalent of time it would take to get a PhD writing my way through one flawed novel after another until I finally got good enough to be published, to get an agent, to be able to consider myself finally a real writer. 

Did I take a course? No, because they were few and far between way back in that distant past. But I did go to a wonderful writing conference, and I did attend any genre convention I could find that had panels on writing and publishing. And now I am on those panels. And I am teaching writing, giving the kind of course that would have shaved years off the long apprenticeship I served. 

In my opinion, this is the main gift any writing course can give you: by pointing out the pitfalls that lie ahead, help you to avoid them, to achieve your goal sooner. It will still take years to hone your craft, but at least you will now have a bright flashlight to illumine your way through the gloom!

Will taking a class turn you into a successful writer? There is no secret handshake, no hidden formula, no short cut to success. And success itself is something different for everyone. What I try to do in my classes is to give my students a way to deal with all those ideas swimming around in their head, all those characters struggling to have their say. I help them open the door.

That first evening in class, when everyone talks about their ideas for the novel they know is in there somewhere, the terms used are broad and rarely does any clear picture emerge of what the writer wants to say. But there is enough to let me know what is in there, what help is needed to get it out into the light. Once that does emerge, we have a clear picture of the story that writer wants to tell. And as a group we help give them a structure to hang it on. By the end, each writer has a story with a beginning, middle and at least the hint of an end, although sometimes along the way the original idea has been thrown out the window and a bright new shiny one has evolved in its place.

Does this mean that every student will write and sell a novel? Some do, *for example, the person whose blog you are now reading. Most, however, will not. In this business talent is only part of the equation. I see a lot of talented people in my classes. And I know that first night that very few will ever succeed. Not because they are not good enough or cannot become good enough, but because they refuse to take the time to learn, or because they don't have the drive, the sheer cussedness to hang in through rejection and disappointment till that glorious day when they see those wonderful words: 'We would like to publish your novel'.

Of course, not everyone who comes to class has dreams of publication. Some just want to get that book out, that story that has been banging around inside their head for a long time. Some just want to experiment. And some write as a sort of therapy. It doesn't matter. A classroom is a safe place to do all these things, and have a good time while writing your way into your dream. 

Will you find the Holy Grail in a classroom? You'll never know if you don't try!

*Yes! Indeed!  I was one of Caro's students a few years ago!

Caro Soles teaches at George Brown College: 
Writing a Novel 1 (fall term)  and

Writing a Novel 2 (Winter and Spring term)

Check out Caro's books on AMAZON 
Have a look at Caro's website and blog HERE
And, you can follow her on Twitter @CaroSoles