Monday, December 26, 2016

Shared Disbelief for 99¢

Happy Boxing Day! I hope you had a great Christmas. As a final promo for the year, I have reduced the price of Shared Disbelief, book 4 in the Lupa Schwartz mystery series, to 99¢. The story is being promoted as part of the 99¢ sale at Anne R. Tan's hub, and is running in conjunction with her monthly Instafreebie giveaway promo. You can find all of the titles in both promos by visiting Anne's promo pages, or you can get Shared Disbelief from Amazon's US, UK, Can, and AU pages. It's also available for discount from Kobo, Smashwords, B&N, and iBooks.

Here's the book description:

     Pittsburgh PI Lupa Schwartz is out of his element, coerced into helping local police flush out a serial killer re-enacting the history of human sacrifice and martyrdom. Lacking the right skills to handle the case alone, he has been forced to give his chronicler a much larger and more dangerous role than her normal one as his Watson.
    Gamut Magazine reporter Cattleya Hoskin has covered Lupa's work on many occasions, but his dependence on her in this case is unsettling. Asked to help subvert the FBI's interference with the case, and further taunt the killer by using her media contacts, her professional ethics are stretched to the limit.
     With a killer bent on attacking religion by literally attacking the religious, Lupa and Cattleya face their hardest and most draining case yet. Relying on their individual strengths as much as each other, they're determined to put an end to the murders for good – even if it means crossing lines that should never be crossed.

The promo is running from December 26 to the 28. I hope you take advantage of this opportunity to find something great to read on your new eReader or the phone somebody special bought you this season. And if you didn't get a new device, use that gift card you were given to fill your old device with new stories. And don't forget to pick up some of the FREEBIES and sign up to some new author email lists.

Happy New Year! Festive Kwanzaa! Enjoy your Hanukkah!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Audiobook Review: The God Bomb by Kit Power

Several disparate and desperate souls have gathered in a community center in a small English village seeking salvation or healing from the traveling preacher who has come offering God’s grace. However, one person in particular, a nervous young man who has taken the floor asking to be heard, has a very specific miracle he’s come to seek. He is hoping to actually meet God on this day, or there will be hell to pay.

The God Bomb by Kit Power is a tense and spell-binding psychological thriller told through the eyes of numerous characters, each who has had the misfortune to have chosen the absolute worst day to try for their individual miracle. Each chapter moved in POV and each POV is assigned the title of a book of the Christian bible. 

There’s the priest, a devoted man of God who fundamentally believes his own claims to be able to bring miracles to those who are genuinely deserving. There’s the born-again former druggie who now leads the band. There’s the militant atheist who has come to shower the fakir of a minister in rainbow glitter for spreading homophobic hate. There’s the crippled teen who sometimes believes in miracles, but no longer believes in them for herself. There’s the married couple expecting their first child, and there’s the man holding them all hostages with a bomb strapped to his chest.

Author Kit Power
As the story moves from POV to POV we learn of the motivations and prejudices each harbors. Some personalities we grow to like, others we grow to perhaps dislike; but in each case the characters are individuals with their own thoughts, opinions, fears, and desires. Some are brave and stoic. Some are reckless but well-meaning. Some are cowardly but trapped. Some are just frightened and want the whole thing to end peacefully. Spoiler alert, it doesn’t end peacefully. Throughout the story several of the hostages are murdered in cold blood by the bomber who wants to believe in God, but can’t fathom one who would allow him to do the terrible things he’s doing in His holy name when all He has to do is make an appearance to bring the carnage to an end.

The story carefully walks a very precarious tightrope. As a non-believer I found the approach of telling the story through the ideas of the characters to be safe but clever. A character who believes in God can tell the reader there is a God without it being the message of the book, while for believers, the atheist character’s struggle with faith can also be read as incidental to the story without coming across as the theme. In that sense, the story can be a Shrodinger’s cat – simultaneously faith-affirming and a testament to the futility of faith.

Narrator Chris Barnes
The audio book version is narrated by Chris Barnes whose Scottish accent keeps the listener anchored in the UK setting, which may otherwise have been taken for the deep south of the US, given that the preacher feels less Anglican and more Baptist in his approach to spreading the word. At times, it’s a bit of a struggle for an American ear to make out specific words, but the context quickly clears it up.

The story moves at a good pace, with the action starting from the very beginning and lasting ‘til the very last chapter. The style is intense but accessible, and the concept is unique but feels like it could have come straight from a real life news story. Among some of the best scenes are the deaths, told from the point-of-view of the victims, each realizing that he or she was passing, and each with a different take on how it felt and what it means.

If I had to find a negative, it would be that we only come to understand part of the motivation for what set this radical plan in motion; but we are given enough of it to know that something like this could happen, and that if it did, no amount of reasoning would ever make it seem justified. But whoever said faith has anything to do with reason?

 The God Bomb is available on Audible.

Friday, December 9, 2016

December Promo

For the past several months, author Renée Pawlish has been sponsoring a regular promo featuring bargain or free eBooks in the mystery and thriller genres. This December is no different. The promo this month is scheduled to run December 10th through the 11th and will feature free eBooks.

You can find the promo and all of the free titles by visiting this webpage.

I have decided to include Extreme Unction in this promo, although that title is technically perma-free. Many of you may already have it in your personal library. But to make this a deal, I'm also reducing the price of my box set, Twice Told, from $9.99 American to $3.49. The price is similarly reduced on the AU, CA, and UK Amazon sites.

Extreme Unction is the first novel in the Lupa Schwartz mystery series, and the box set, Twice Told, consists of books two through five, so it's a good and easy way to get the entire set for one low price. Meanwhile, Renée's promo* is also a great way to pick up several other free eBooks and discover a number of great new writers.

Happy browsing.

*Renée's promos are Amazon only. If you don't use Amazon, I'm sorry. There will be other non-Amazon promos in the future.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Close Shave November

National Novel Writing Month has come to a close, and I am proud to announce that I successfully completed the first draft of my thriller novel, On the Side of the Angel, in the allotted time. This novel is planned as part of a cooperative series, and tells the story of the first adventure of The Bartering Angel after she fakes her death and goes off grid at the conclusion of our prequel.

The prequel is a story several of us authors worked on together, with some offering suggestions for the character and backstory, while others outlined, fleshed out, or edited the final story. My entry into the series is set in the Pittsburgh region and the greater Midwest. That's why there is a bridge from "dahn tahn" Pittsburgh featured on the cover. It sets both the place and the theme, since my story acts as a bridge between the prequel and the series as a whole.

My next step is to send the story off to my beta readers, so if you responded to my earlier request to be included in that group, expect a copy in your inbox shortly. I'll then take the advice of those early readers, and clean up the story and grammar errors they catch, before going back in for final edits.

Look for more information on The Bartering Angel series and the prequel in the coming months.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Author Interview: Christopher Johnson: Author of Seven Days Dead

Christopher Johnson is a former United States Marine Sergeant who lives in New Jersey with his three sons.  A fully disabled veteran, he enjoys writing in fiction, specifically scifi, and nonfiction religious anthropology.  He has held a variety of jobs from night auditor at a hotel to Financial Advisor, has dabbled in amateur blacksmithing, and has a real thing for zombies.  You can see his work, as well as get updates on forthcoming books, at his website:

Seven Days Dead 
   Tal Barzani, Mizrahi Jew, former IDF operator, and confirmed drunk wakes up to find his city in flames. As Jerusalem burns, he accidentally saves a ragtag group of people already on the jagged edge of survival. Will they escape the City of David alive? Can Tal keep his group together long enough to find safe harbor? Or will it become a three way race between the undead, their own prejudices, and the desert to see which kills them first?  
   Follow the survivors through the rich landscapes and beautiful history of the Levant as they work to survive in this new and frightening world. All cities, names, historical sites, military units and more are represented with as much accuracy as possible to ensure an experience that will pull you in...and never let go

Who are your influences?
I've had quite a few over the years. When I was younger David Eddings was a favorite author of mine for the way he could weave a grand and complex universe. More recently I've been drawn to George RR Martin, Joe Abercrombie (one of my absolute favorites), and Patrick Rothfuss.

When did you begin writing?
I first started writing when I was in 10th grade, I believe. I had an assignment from my history teacher to come up with a myth for some natural occurrence or another - I think it was the changing of the seasons. So I wrote up my myth and got an A+++ (my first…and only). He spoke to me afterwards and told me that I should look into being a writer because of the quality of that one assignment. After that, I tried starting several times and wrote some smaller and more niche works, but time was always a commodity that I had little of.

How do you come up with your stories, characters, character names, POV, etc?
Honestly, I just kind of do my regular routine and every now and again something pops in my head. I'll say, "what if I made this…" or "I'm so tired of this particular kind of coincidence always saving the characters in these books. This is how I would have written it…" After a while, the details start filling themselves in and I can't stop thinking about it until I get it on paper.

Do you work from an outline?
I haven't ever used an outline. I kind of write where the story takes me and allow the characters to grow organically. I honestly have little patience with outlines, and I feel that if you script the details too much, you run the risk of diverting the story line to fit the outline and that can derail the experience for some readers. I want the reader to feel like he or she is in the story, like an unspoken character and the smallest things can pull them out of the experience.

Tell me about your favorite scene in your novel.
I really liked the scene from the monastery where Levi's issues come to a head. I wanted there to be conflict there, but one that made sense from the back story and the known cultural differences of the characters involved. I thought that it closed up that part of the story nicely and provided the impetus for the group to move from a safe area without feeling like the confrontation was forced.

Can you tell us a little about your writing philosophy?
I don't really have a philosophy, per se. I want my readers to believe the story is possible and plausible. I want them to see themselves making the same decisions if they were in that position. I also want them to have an adventure. When I was younger, I devoured books because the stories in them played out in my head like movies and I want that same experience for anyone who reads anything I've written.

Have you ever tried writing in any other genres?
I also enjoy writing about religion and religious anthropology. For me the separation of Faith and Fact has always intrigued me - especially because anyone can see how much effect belief has on our cultural outlook and the history of our world.

Do you have any interesting writing-related anecdotes to share?
No real anecdote, but I will say for writers looking to put their work on Kindle to be very careful how you format your work. I wrote a book that had a plethora of footnotes and, on Kindle, they appear in red type. Well I guess one of my footnotes must have been too close to the text and the next three paragraphs of the book were all in red type.

 Available in paperback or for the Kindle.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm not a particularly religious man. In fact, I don't believe in anything that could justifiably be called a god. However, I am appreciative of the things life has given me that can rightly be called good. I have children and grandchildren and a girlfriend and a mother and friends to love and be loved by in return. I am comfortable in a fairly safe part of the world. There are distractions a-plenty to occupy my mind and to entertain my heart. If luck is a thing, I'm lucky. If success is measured by our own standard and not the arbitrary standards of the masses, I'm successful.

Thank you universe. Thank you fate. Thank you life.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Author Interview: Carl Schmidt: Author of Dead Down East

Carl Schmidt graduated from Denver University with a degree in mathematics and physics. As a Woodrow Wilson Fellow he studied mathematics at Brown University.

Carl lived and traveled widely throughout Asia for seven years, including two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines and five years in Japan, where he taught English.

Carl has spent dozens of summers in Maine, on lakes and in the woods. He chose it as the setting for this novel because he loves its rugged natural beauty and the charming idiosyncrasies of Mainers. He has also written and recorded three musical albums. This, along with his formal education, proved invaluable when molding the persona and voice of Jesse Thorpe, the narrator of Dead Down East, and endowing him with both a creative eye for detail and a sense of humor.

Dead Down East is the first novel in the Jesse Thorpe Mystery Series, which includes A Priestly Affair and Redbone.  In 2001, New Falcon Press published his non-fictional book, A Recipe for Bliss: Kriya Yoga for a New Millennium.

Currently, he is a freelance writer living in Sedona, Arizona with his lovely wife, Holly, and their faithful German shorthaired pointer, Alize.

Dead Down East

Dead Down East, a fictional murder mystery, is both detective noir and smart screwball comedy rolled into one. Jesse Thorpe, a young private investigator operating out of Augusta, Maine, receives a mysterious phone call from a former client, Cynthia Dumais.  She begs to be rescued from an island south of Brunswick, within a mile of where William Lavoilette, the governor of Maine, was assassinated the night before. She insists that her life is in danger, but is unwilling to provide any further information. Reluctantly, Jesse goes to fetch her.

Within a week, Jesse has three separate clients, each with his, or her, own desperate need to have the murder solved. He assembles a motley team of compadres, including rock band members, a tie-dye psychic and his rousing girlfriend, Angele Boucher, to help him with the case. While the FBI and the Maine State Police investigate political motives, Jesse looks for the woman—Cherchez la Femme—as the trail draws him through the lives, and DNA, of the governor’s former mistresses.

Who are your influences?
Two novelists come to mind. First, Tim Cockey wrote five quirky mysteries (The Hearse Novels) before changing his name to Richard Hawke and writing more traditional, edgy ones. I much preferred the Cockey stories, which are laugh-out-loud funny…pure entertainment. They are smart, witty, and hard to put down.
And second, David Guterson, who wrote Snow Falling on Cedars. This novel was spellbinding for me. Each paragraph is constructed with precision, texture and feeling.
Both of these two were snuggled somewhere in the back of my mind as I began writing fiction.

When did you begin writing?
I published a non-fiction book on Kriya Yoga in 1999. It is partly autobiographical. Putting that together helped me develop a writing voice, but it was many years later that I turned to fiction.

 How do you come up with your stories, characters, character names, POV, etc?
I wait for a basic outline to take shape before I begin writing, but from the outset I had chosen Maine as the setting for my Jesse Thorpe Mystery Series. I have spent many summers in Maine and love its natural beauty and its eccentric personalities.

I use two tricks for developing characters. First, I search the Internet for photographs of people who might play well in the storyline. When I find one that seems just right, I put the photograph in a file and refer to it from time to time to help cement the personality in my mind.

And second, for the names, I go to lists of both first and last names that are commonly found in Maine for the age of each individual. I want the names to be authentic. Occasionally, I’ll let an outsider in, but for the most part, I want the Mainers to be Mainers in every respect.

Do you work from an outline?
Yes. But it’s an evolving outline, without a lot of detail. I trust that the story will tell itself, once it begins to roll.

Tell me about your favorite scene in your novel.
Three different scenes come to mind, and it’s hard to pick my favorite.

1. The Prologue.
            In the novel, Dead Down East, Jesse Thorpe, the narrator/private detective of the story, has his first really dicey moment in the middle of chapter four, as he is trying to worm his way through an FBI roadblock. In my first draft, I had chosen that moment to insert a rather lengthy internal monologue, to expose the witty side of Jesse’s nature. I was having so much fun with it that by the time I was done, it was almost fifteen hundred words long. And while I liked the tension it created by suspending the dramatic moment in mid-air—for several pages—eventually I decided that it would be more effective as a prologue for the book. This way, on the very first page, the reader gets a preview of the inner workings of Jesse’s mind, a snapshot of his modus operandi and a quick peak at his girlfriend.
(You can read this prologue by going to either my website or Amazon.)

2. The Frank Hayden scene.
            In each of my first three Jesse Thorpe Mysteries, I introduce one character who speaks with a strong down east accent. The intent is to fully immerse the reader in a “Maine” experience. If I had allowed this type of dialogue to run rampant in the book, it would be tedious both to write and to read. Just a touch, however, gives it local charm and color.
            Jesse discovers that the license plate on the car driven by the man who has assassinated the governor is “GOFURS.” He suspects the plate has been stolen and put on the car prior to the killing, but to double check, he runs a search to find the owner of that plate and calls him on the phone. Here is some of that dialogue:

“Hello, is this Frank Hayden?” I asked.
“Mr. Hayden, my name is Jesse Thorpe. I am sorry to call you this early in the morning, but I am investigating a minor automobile accident. A vehicle with the license plate, ‘GOFURS,’ was seen leaving the accident. That plate belongs to you. Is that plate on your 2008 Ford F-150?”
“Ah-yuh, that it tis, but there’s been no accident.”
“I see,” I said. “It’s possible someone misread the plate. Is your plate still on your truck?”
“Hahd tellin’, without lookin’.”
“Would you be kind enough to check?”
“Shuwah,” he said.
I heard his footsteps, so he must have carried his phone with him. About a half minute later he bemoaned, “By thundah, mah plate’s missin’. That’s damn wicked, it is. It didn’t fall off. Some pissant mustah stole it.”

3. The Dennis Jackson takes a baseball bat and smashes Jesse’s Subaru scene.
            Suffice it to say, Jesse gets even.

Can you tell us a little about your writing philosophy?
I work hard to bring together a number of somewhat diverse elements: humor, an intriguing story, interesting characters, scientific fact, lively dialogue, and suspense. I want the reader to try to solve the mystery as it develops, but my primary concern is that the reader enjoys himself…and laughs out loud. 

Have you ever tried writing in any other genres?
As I mentioned above, my first book was a non-fiction work, published by New Falcon Press. The title is: A Recipe for Bliss.

Do you have any interesting writing-related anecdotes to share?
I’ll share just one. The first chapter of Dead Down East is set in Bear Spring Camps, on Great Pond, not far from Waterville, Maine. The photograph on the cover is of my son standing on the porch of cabin number 11, commonly referred to at Bear Spring as “The Sunshine Cabin.” According to my father, that happens to be the very place where I was conceived. (Not on the porch, mind you, but inside.)

Dead Down East is available on Amazon, and Carl Schmidt can be found on Facebook or his website.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Join Me After NaNo

It’s that time of year again, and I’m once again participating in National Novel Writing Month – aka NaNoWriMo. I skipped the last few years, but twice in the past I’ve used nano to complete two manuscripts.
The idea behind the event is to encourage would-be writers to cheer on one another as participants attempt to complete an entire 50,000 word manuscript during the month of November. My first experience with the one month challenge was when I wrote the fourth novel in my mystery series. I kept a video blog of that experience, and it can still be found online here. Few people have actually bothered to watch it since I posted it in 2010, and I don’t expect many if any of you to go back and watch it now.
My second time with nano was the following year when I rewrote the second novel in my mystery series, having lost the original first draft in a catastrophic PC hard drive failure.
This time I’ll be using the opportunity to complete my entry in a new series several authors and I have been working to create. We developed a character and backstory together, and are working on a prequel novel which will act as a sort of pilot episode for the series. From there, each author has carte blanche to use the character in a novel of his or her own creation.
My novel will be tentatively titled On the Side of the Angel, and I’ve already created a cover concept. Each of the novels in the series will feature the badge seen on my cover indicating that it’s part of the Bartering Angel series.
Once November is over, I will hopefully have a completed first draft, and I will then need other eyes to help me sort out any issues with grammar, punctuation, spelling, and even craft issues such as story arc and character development. Readers who take on these responsibilities are known as beta readers, and I’m here to ask you to join that part of my team.
If you have any interest in being in on the ground floor of cleaning up a rough manuscript and bringing it to a fuller more realized state, just drop me a line. I’ll send you a copy and even include you in the acknowledgements of the completed book when it’s published.
As a teaser, here’s the story description I tossed together for the book’s nano page:
A woman with a "particular set of skills" has been forced to find a new life having faked her death and gone off grid. Finding herself in Pittsburgh with no friends, no job, and only the skeleton of a fictional identity, she must deal with some unsavory people if she hopes to bring the man who destroyed her family to some semblance of justice.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Just in Time for Halloween!


There's a brand new anthology of flash fiction with a Halloween theme available for FREE and it contains two stories by yours truly. You can get a copy of Monster Maelstrom for your e-reader now from Amazon, GooglePlay, B&N, Smashwords, with more retailers coming soon. Pick up a copy and leave us a review. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Guest Post: Balancing Work, Writing, and a Social Life by Dane Cobain

Dane Cobain (High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, UK) is an independent poet, musician and storyteller with a passion for language and learning. When he’s not in front of a screen writing stories and poetry, he can be found working on his book review blog or developing his website, His debut novella, No Rest for the Wicked, will be released by Booktrope in
the Summer of 2015.

No Rest for the Wicked
   When the Angels attack, there’s NO REST FOR THE WICKED.
   Father Montgomery, an elderly priest with a secret past, begins to investigate after his parishioners come under attack, and with the help of Jones, a young businessman with an estranged child, Montgomery begins to track down the origin of the Angels.
   When Jones himself is attacked, Father Montgomery knows he has to act fast. He speaks to the Angels and organises a final showdown where he’s asked to make the ultimate sacrifice.

   My name’s Dane Cobain and I’m a writer. I also have a full-time job in social media marketing, which means – like most indie authors – I have a terrible work/life balance. During the week, I work from 9 AM to 5:30 PM, then I come home and carry on working on my writing until midnight. Over the weekend, I often write for 14-16 hours.
   It can be difficult. The writer’s life is a sometimes lonely life, because they have to stay at home and tap away at their computers while their friends are going out and getting drunk. You have to learn to say ‘no’ when people ask you whether you want to do things, even if you’re sorely tempted.,
   You have to figure out how to work as efficiently as possible. For me, that can be as simple as making notes on a new novel during my cigarette breaks at work, or as complicated as memorising poetry and listening to music while jogging or editing and answering e-mails simultaneously with a film on in the background.
   And then, when you do go out and start socialising, you have to make the most of that too. It helps to have an all-or-nothing personality type, because if you don’t then you’re probably not going to last. But the problem with that is that you can overdo it, and if you don’t take time to rest then you’re at risk of a meltdown.
   That happened to me a couple of years ago – I fell ill and spent two or three months needing to take a lot of time off work. Around that time, I was also diagnosed with anxiety disorder, and it’s the only time in my adult life that I couldn’t work. I hated it.
   But then, writers are a different breed – we’re not happy unless we’re busy. Honestly, I don’t really ‘relax’ – I hate sitting still and doing nothing, and I actually find it more relaxing to work than it is when I sit back and do nothing with the TV on.
   Everyone has a different way of working, and some writers are able to balance their writing with their family life, or to run a successful business at the same time. Writing is something that you can’t not do – if you’re meant to be a writer, you’ll be writing.
   The key is to balance writing with the rest of your life. You need to figure out what’s important to you and prioritise your time accordingly. If you realise you’re spending too much time doing something you don’t enjoy – or if you’re not spending enough time on something you love – reevaluate and reprioritise.
   In my opinion, that’s the key to achieving a healthy work/life balance. It’s not about balancing how much time and energy you put into work and life – it’s about making sure that you’re happy with your current ratio.
   In fact, Bloomberg has made the (audacious but accurate) claim that work/life balance is dead, thanks to almost half of people working more than 40 hours a week and millennials taking on increased responsibility both at home and at work. And that’s just for ‘normal’ people! Writers are effectively working a second job in the evenings, whether they’re cranking out a first draft or whether they’re editing and marketing their work.
   But that’s why writers are happy to skew the balance and to put more hours in than other people. They don’t do it because of the pay, because the pay isn’t great. They do it for the love of it, and that’s okay.
   After all, they say that if you choose a job you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. Writing is a job, whether you do it for a living or not; but it’s a job that you can fall in love with.

Saturday, October 22, 2016


As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am including Five Secrets in an Instafreebie promo. The program is organized by writer Anne R. Tan and its sole purpose is to help the participants grow our newsletters. Newsletters like mine are the best tool authors like me have for connecting to our readers and becoming less dependent on the whims of the big retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. With Instafreebie, readers get a free copy of an eBook in exchange for giving the writer their contact info and being added to the list.

So far, my list has grown entirely organically, but to be honest it's very small compared to many other writers, some of whom have been working on their careers far less time than I. So my hope is that by joining with other writers who work in similar genres, that they will steer some of their readers towards my list to help it grow. To that end, I would ask that you, my readers, would consider doing the same. Take a few minutes to check out the writers in the promo. Download any books you find there that seem appealing, and allow your email address to become a part of that writer's list so that he or she can remain in contact with you about future projects. Really, everybody comes out a winner that way. The three-day promo runs Oct 23, 24, and 25.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

October Surprise!

October Surprise!

By now you're used to me telling you about the monthly Renée Pawlish Mystery/Thriller eBook sale program. This month features FREE deals, and none of the featured books have ever been featured in this promo before. So from now through Sunday, you can get my book, Shared Disbelief, for your kindle or kindle app as part of this program for FREE.

This is also the first time I'm debuting my new cover design in a promo. I'm hoping that the updated look will inspire some updated sales. We'll see.

Friday, September 30, 2016

New Covers for the Series

In an effort to revive interest in the Lupa Schwartz mystery novel series, I am trying a few things. One is that I am placing book five, Five Secrets, into a promotion this month on Instafreebie, more on that later. I am also trying new eBook covers. As a reminder, this was the old cover for the first ebook in the series.

The cover on the left is the most recent iteration. On the right is the first cover featuring this basic design.

The new covers are again a variation on this theme. I've added an emphatic color element to the characters to make them interesting, and I've included a traditional mystery novel iconic avatar to the background of each novel that relates in some way to the story. I'm also eliminating the illumination source image from each of the current covers, except for the first. As they stand, book two features a glowing full moon, book three features a flashlight beam, on book four there is a bonfire, while the fifth book features distant headlight beams. I've decided these images do nothing to help compel a reader's eye beyond causing some confusion, so they are gone. One final addition is that I have decided to include the series number for each volume on the cover.

Here then are the five new covers for the series.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Team Mystery Thriller September Promo

On September 24 and 25, my collection of noir stories, 8 Tales of Noir, will be included in the monthly Team Mystery Thriller promo for just 99¢. It will be just one of dozens of such books available at

In previous promos with the team I have included my first-in-series Lupa Schwartz mystery novel, Extreme Unction (which was free,) and my box set of the Lupa Schwartz series books two through five, Twice Told, for 99¢. Each time, the promo helped my book rise in it's respective category on Amazon, and - to this day - Extreme Unction remains in the top 300 free in the category "Women Sleuths" and is almost top 100 free in the "Private Investigators" category. Let's see how high we can push 8 Tales of Noir.

Monday, September 19, 2016

A New Anthology For You

A new anthology of flash fiction, which has just been released, includes a 1000-word complete Lupa Schwartz Mystery entitled FTS. The anthology, entitled Bite-Sized Stories, was compiled and edited by author, George Donnelley. The book is available for free from most online retailers, and will soon be free on Amazon, as soon as we can get them to price-match. In the meanwhile, it is available on Amazon for just 99 cents.

(UPDATE: Amazon has price-matched to free as well.)

OR, you can get a copy for free by signing up for my newsletter.

iTunes, Google Play, B&N, Kobo

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Testify on the Thrills and Mystery Podcast

Those of you who regularly listen to my podcast already know this, but I'm currently featuring my Lupa Schwartz novella, Testify, on my audiobook-style podcast, The Thrills and Mystery Podcast. Testify is available to read on this blog, and has been for over a year. It will eventually be removed from this site and published in a collection of Lupa Schwartz novellas to be entitled Hard Boiled. The first installment is currently available for download, and consecutive installments will be rolled out in three more parts each Monday. Jump on over to Thrills and Mystery's website to hear the first episode now. And enjoy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Guest Post: The Whole Thing About Existence by Arthur M. Doweyko, PhD

After retiring in 2009, Arthur M. Doweyko took up writing fiction. His novel Algorithm garnered a 2010 Royal Palm Literary Award. He has also published a number of short stories, many of which have been selected as Finalists in the Royal Palm Literary Award contest, and two Honorable Mentions in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest.

Arthur was awarded the 2008 Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award for his contribution to the discovery of Sprycel, a novel anti-cancer drug successfully brought to the marketplace in 2009. He has authored over one hundred publications (papers, abstracts, patents, book chapters) and has been an invited lecturer in a number of drug-discovery and computational venues. 

Arthur lives in Florida with the love of his life, Lidia. When he’s not writing, he’s happily wandering the beaches. 

As Wings Unfurl
   Applegate Bogdanski returns from Vietnam with a missing leg, a Purple Heart, and an addiction to morphine. He stumbles through each day, looking forward to nothing and hoping it will arrive soon. When he attempts to thwart a crime, he is knocked unconscious and wakes up to discover that people are once again calling him a hero, though he feels undeserving of the praise.
   Apple returns to work and meets Angela, a mysterious woman who claims to be his guardian. Immediately, he feels a connection to her, which morphs into an attraction. But he soon discovers that Angela is much more than she seems.
   Apple and Angela are swept up in a conspiracy that stretches through time and space. Together, they must fight to save everything they hold dear from an alien race bent on destroying humanity.
Okay, so this could possibly be an exercise in deep thinking. Or not.
The single most important question we could ever ask is the one we will never get an answer for.

Put in a simple way:  "What the hell is going on?" implying… Why are we here? What is this place? Does something else come next? It's a favorite topic in science fiction, whether addressed head on or implied, in fact, it underlies both my debut novel, Algorithm and As Wings Unfurl.

In Algorithm I used the premise that a large part of our DNA is responsible for instinct, that for humans has a very specific purpose. In As Wings Unfurl the idea is that we have been fooled into a belief of evolutionary origins, and that the biblical accounts may be more accurate.

Philosophers, theologians, and even scientists have sought the answer, but we all know deep down that isn't going to happen. That grim fact alone is really quite an interesting clue to the answer itself. And there are other clues.

When a question is posed that really cannot be answered, the reason is either it's not a legitimate question or we aren't capable of understanding the answer. An illegitimate question is one that sounds logical but is poisoned with a logical impossibility. For example, when an irresistible force meets an immovable object, what happens? Here it's clear that the question has no logical underpinning. You simply can't ask that question!

Does asking about the Universe and our place in it fall into such a false trap? In this case, we may be faced with an answer that we cannot understand. Theologians would point to scripture and belief systems that explain everything. The supposition is that we don't have all the facts, and may never get them. However, even in a belief system, there are questions that can be posed, that we need to relegate to a higher authority… admitting we will never understand the answers as living human beings.

It seems the question of existence is like the endless series of "whys" a child might dish out, which usually result in parental exasperation. There is a limit to our understanding, and that limit derives from the type of logic we use.

Our logic was developed by a life form obsessed with survival. That's how we came to be. The way we think is entirely based on getting food, shelter, and staying out of deadly trouble. All this came about over a period of millions of years on a tiny dust mote called the Earth, stuck in a corner of a galaxy containing 100 billion stars in a universe containing at least 10 billion galaxies. The numbers are staggering. But the point is that our way of thinking came about in an exceedingly parochial way in a negligible part of the universe. Our logic may not apply to the bigger picture. When we ask a question aimed at the entire universe, we make the crass assumption that the universe and all its moving parts follow our brand of logic. Heck, even the language we use may not apply.

Aristotle once declared he was able to prove the existence of God. His approach is sometimes referred to as the First Cause. The assumption, made logically, is that all things have a cause. Applying this cause/effect relationship to anything will ultimately lead to the First Cause. For example, why is there wind? The air is moved by the heat from the sun. Why does the sun heat the air? Its thermonuclear reactions give off heat and we happen to be near enough to feel it. Why is there a sun? Matter was attracted by gravitational forces, and when an enormous amount was squished together, atoms fell apart. How did the atoms come to be? They are the consequence of the Big Bang, where matter for some reason chose to appear from nowhere and take on the form of atoms. Now we're getting in trouble.

To Aristotle the Big Bang could easily be interpreted as God. To physicists, it's just one of those curiosities that maybe someday we'll understand. Interestingly, the logical problem with the First Cause is that there is no proof that all things in the universe need to have a cause. (Just like the Big Bang). Here, logic itself demands that we be careful in extrapolating a series of deductions.

I propose that the question so dear to us all, is one that makes no sense. Just like a square circle, the question itself is simply not allowed.

Don't feel bad or get mad. Logic, like everything else, has its limits.

I mentioned other clues early in this essay. They are all around us. Matter is made of something, right? What exactly is that? Ah…silly question? We're great at taking things apart, giving them names, studying how they interact. But we will never ever know what matter is. That, right there, is a clue!

Another clue: did you know that all attempts to produce a perfect vacuum have failed. Put in another way, we cannot create a space with nothing in it. Read that as trying to produce a tiny spot where nothing exists. Reason? Because something always shows up. Light and/or tiny particles of matter manage to be created. Out of nothing!!!

Another: entangled particles … one can separate subatomic particles that usually exist as pairs. Whatever is done to one particle happens to the other at the very same time, regardless of distance between them. Einstein called this "spooky." It defies reason, but does suggest what we are seeing is not at all what really exists.

Finally, how is it that after the Big Bang, matter chose to form into atoms? It's peculiar because atoms have properties which are anthropomorphic … that is, they have likes and dislikes, which persist through higher levels of complexity, all the way through to us. It's puzzling that matter came together in the form of building blocks.

Existence is a strange phenomenon. It resists eradication. Matter behaves as if it's all part of one thing—odd little observations, but deeply meaningful. At this point, one could draw the conclusion that we are immortal, based on the fact that all our atoms will continue to exist after we die. It seems matter will last forever, either in the form of solids or energy, since it and energy have nowhere to go. They simply cannot unexist.

For more such oddities, strange discoveries, and even some thoughts about science fiction, please feel free to visit

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Should Authors Use Booktrack: My Opinion

Several months ago, I decided to put my noir collection, 8 Tales of Noir, into the Booktrack program after hearing an interview with CEO and co-founder of Booktrack, Paul Cameron, conducted by Joanna Penn of the Creative Penn. The thing Paul said that closed the deal for me was that as a fairly new platform, new authors could gain traction by being one of the few options available on the site. Those weren’t his exact words, but that was the gist I took from it.

For the uninitiated, Booktrack is a website and app that allows readers to listen to a soundtrack which is partly synced to their reading rate. Thematic music is a part of the experience, but there are also sound effects. The music and ambient noises begin when the reader enters a scene, and once the program learns your reading speed, it times sound effects to coincide with when the reader reaches a specific event. 

So I spent about a week late at nights creating a Booktrack version of my book. All tolled, it probably consisted of about a 20-hour investment of my time. I found the interface easy to learn and apply, and the process was actually kind of fun – once. If I had to do it for all of my books, I’m certain the process would quickly become a chore. And luckily, Booktrack offers professional services for those who do not wish to compile their own, or be bothered learning the process.

So I worked diligently until I was satisfied that my book was as good as I could make it. I chose the music carefully; I found fitting sound effects for almost every grunt and door slam; and when I was stumped, I found suitable alternatives. For example, one of my stories features a fly flitting about from scene to scene, but there was no buzzing fly sound effect available. However there was a mosquito and other insect noises which to anyone other than a trained entomologist will suffice quite nicely.

When it was all said and done, on Valentine's Day I pressed publish, and … nothing.

Turns out, my paid version does not even show up as a purchasable option on the app store. I queried about this, and learned that the app servicers (android and Apple) take too big a slice. So the book is ONLY available for purchase on the website, and then only after a direct search for my author name. It doesn't even come up doing a title search for crying out loud. Oh, I suppose if one wades through the hundreds and hundreds of FREE options (which for some reason get all the prime real estate), one might eventually stumble on my cover, but I’m not holding my breath for that.

So how many copies have I sold? That’s another great question. I assume zero, but for all I know there have been a few sales. I mean, somebody gave it a 4-star rating after all. (Possibly somebody who clicked over from my mailing list or Facebook page.) But there’s no dashboard, no sales ranking, no downloadable sales history … no nothing. I have received one lone email telling me I haven’t earned the sales threshold for a royalty payment yet. Other than that, I have no idea what the heck is going on.

Of course there's always the possibility that my book isn't selling because it's not enticing enough. That's a possibility, but not a certainty. However, one certain thing is that it can't sell if it's utterly undiscoverable. 

So I’m afraid I can’t recommend Booktrack for authors. At least not until they address these issues. Sorry.

It's a shame too. The Booktrack version of my book is pretty dang cool. You should check it out

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Author Spotlight: Renée Pawlish, Author of It Doesn't Happen in the Movies

Editor's Note:
Renée Pawlish is the mastermind behind the monthly Team Mystery Thriller promos. She doesn't even have a dog in the race this month, but she generously coordinates and hosts the promo anyway. 

Renée Pawlish is the award-winning author of the bestselling Reed Ferguson mystery series, the Dewey Webb mystery series, horror bestseller Nephilim Genesis of Evil, The Noah Winters YA Adventure series, middle-grade historical novel This War We're In, Take Five, a short story collection, and The Sallie House: Exposing the Beast Within, a nonfiction account of a haunted house investigation.

Renée has been called "a promising new voice to the comic murder mystery genre" and "a powerful storyteller". Nephilim Genesis of Evil has been compared to Stephen King and Frank Peretti.

Renée was born in California, but has lived most of her life in Colorado.

This Doesn't Happen in the Movies
A wannabe private eye with a love of film noir and detective fiction. 
A rich, attractive femme fatale. 
A missing husband. 
A rollicking ride to a dark and daring ending 
Reed Ferguson’s first case is a daring adventure, complete with a dose of film noir, and a lot of humor. With a great supporting cast of the Goofball Brothers, Reed’s not too bright neighbors, and Cal, Reed’s computer geek friend, This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies is detective noir at its best. Follow Reed as he solves crime akin to his cinematic hero, Humphrey Bogart.

“I want you to find my dead husband.”
“Excuse me?” That was my first reaction.
“I want you to find my husband. He’s dead, and I need to know where he is.” She spoke in a voice one sexy note below middle C.
“Uh-huh.” That was my second reaction. Really slick.
Moments before, when I saw her standing in the outer room, waiting to come into my office, I had the feeling she’d be trouble. And now, with that intro, I knew it.
“He’s dead, and I need you to find him.” If she wasn’t tired of the repetition, I was, but I couldn’t seem to get my mouth working. She sat in the cushy black leather chair on the other side of my desk, exhaling money with every sultry breath. She had beautiful blond hair with just a hint of darker color at the roots, blue eyes like a cold mountain lake, and a smile that would slay Adonis. I’d like to say that a beautiful woman couldn’t influence me by her beauty alone. I’d like to say it, but I can’t.
“Why didn’t you come see me yesterday?” I asked. Her eyes widened in surprise. This detective misses nothing, I thought, mentally patting myself on the back. She didn’t know that I’d definitely noticed her yesterday eating at a deli across the street. I had been staring out the window, and there she was.
The shoulders of her red designer jacket went up a half-inch and back down, then her full lips curled into the trace of a smile. “I came here to see you, but you were leaving for lunch. I followed you, and then I lost my nerve.”
“I see you’ve regained it.” I’ve never been one to place too much importance on my looks, but I suddenly wished I could run a comb through my hair, put on a nicer shirt, and splash on a little cologne. And change my eye color – hazel – boring. It sounded like someone’s old, spinster aunt, not an eye color.
She nodded. “Yes. I have to find out about my husband. He’s dead, I know it. I just know it.” Her tone swayed as if in a cool breeze, with no hint of the desperation that should’ve been carried in the words.
“But he’s also missing,” I said in a tone bordering on flippant, as I leaned forward to unlock the desk drawer where I kept spare change, paper clips, and my favorite gold pen. Maybe writing things down would help me concentrate. But I caught a whiff of something elegant coming from her direction, and the key I was holding missed the lock by a good two inches. I hoped she didn’t see my blunder. I felt my face getting warm and assumed my cheeks were turning crimson. I hoped she didn’t see that either.
Perhaps I was being too glib because she glanced back toward the door as if she had mistaken my office for another. “This is the Ferguson Detective Agency? You are Reed Ferguson?”
“It is and I am.” I smiled in my most assured manner, then immediately questioned what I was doing. This woman was making no sense and here I was, flirting with her like a high-school jock. I glanced behind her at the framed movie poster from the The Big Sleep, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It was one of my favorites, and I hung the poster in my office as a sort of inspiration. I wanted to be as cool as Bogie. I wondered what he would do right now.
She puckered pink lips at me. “I need your help.”
“That’s what I’m here for.” Now I sounded cocky.
The pucker turned into a fully developed frown. “I’m very serious, Mr. Ferguson.”
“Reed.” I furrowed my brow and looked at my potential first client with as serious an expression as I could muster. I noticed for the first time that she applied her makeup a bit heavy, in an attempt to cover blemishes.
“Reed,” she said. “Let me explain.” Now we were getting somewhere. I found the gold pen, popped the top off it and scrounged around another drawer for a notepad. “My name is Amanda Ghering.” She spoke in an even tone, bland, like she was reading a grocery list. “My husband, Peter, left on a business trip three weeks ago yesterday. He was supposed to return on Monday, but he didn’t.”

If you'd like to check out Renée's books, her links are just below. Or to check out the promo, go to Renée Pawlish's website where all of the books in this giveaway are available.

You can also find It Doesn't Happen in the Movies at the following links: