Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Announcing: Something to Read on the Ride - an anthology for children's charities

A few months ago I learned of a flash fiction anthology project that was designed to raise money for various children's charities. The premise was that each story would be brief enough for a commuter to enjoy while on the bus, trolley, train or carpool. The idea appealed to me, so I submitted a short piece, A Routine Sunday, which is a third person omnipotent story about a typical Sunday in the life of a few of the characters from my mystery series.

Frank Zubek, one of the contributing writers, is handling promotion, and he describes the book as follows:
Book cover art by Allessandro Fiorini
An excellent collection of 27 short stories aimed at commuters and travelers who have only a limited amount of time to read on the journey. This book is a Charity Anthology, with all proceeds (not just profits!) donated to children’s charity.
Suitable for all adult readers from 18 - 80. This book covers a large range of subjects, from space travel to zombies, romance, humour and tragedy, and from unusual occurrences to every day situations. Stories were donated by a wide variety of authors, all with very different styles, so there is plenty for everybody.

Authors: Neil Bursnoll, Samuel Clements, Andrew Vu, Amanda Brice, Stella Wilkinson, Neil Sweetman, L.G. Castillo, Landon Porter, Debbie Bennett, Frank Zubek, Pru Moran, Louis Hessey-Antell, Dan Brady, J. David Core, Monica La Porta, Paul B. Kohler, Dan Fiorella, Ruth Banda-Banda, Penny Darling, James Griffiths and Pauline Drummie
The book is the brainchild of Stella Wilkinson, who conceived the idea, collected the stories, and acted as editor. The book, which is entitled Something to Read on the Ride: A Charity Anthology, is now available for the Kindle at a cost of $3.99.

UPDATE: The price has been reduced to $2.99, and there is a paperback version coming soon.

UPDATE 2: The specific charity has been chosen. It will be Wallace and Gromit's Grand Appeal, A Children's Hospital Charity.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Wingman, A humorous novellette is going live on Kindle this Monday

"That’s brilliant,” Mac said. “It takes off all the pressure of dealing with personal rejection and it creates a sort of mystery. You’re not hitting on her directly. You’re doing it by proxy, and if she wants to find out who is hitting on her, she has to accept the drink offer.”

If you’ve ever wished you could be a fly on the wall to observe as a group of friends play wingman to each other, this story has you covered. A high school dean, a construction worker and an off-duty cop head out for a night on the prowl in this quirky comedy of errors. When each agrees to seek-out and introduce another of the trio to a woman fitting his ideal type, only the annoying fly that keeps buzzing the table is privy to all the behind-the-scenes goings on.

Wingman looks at the gameplay and pitfalls of clubbing through a multi-faceted sardonic eye – literally.

UPDATE: Wingman is now available for the Kindle and the Nook.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Book Review: An Ounce of Prevention by Adam Graham

Gerald “Jerry” Newton runs a detective agency in Boise, Idaho; not Los Angeles, not Chicago, not even Brooklyn. It isn’t exactly the locale one first envisions when imaging a classic gumshoe tale. For the most part, one would be right. Most of the cases Jerry and his crew investigate are run-of-the-mill, boring security details. Then a Mr. Durand, a lowly fourth grade teacher and part time counselor at a soccer camp, brings him an unusual case. Durand has been receiving threatening letters, and he suspects that somebody is out to kill him. Jerry takes the case, thinking it’s probably just a kid angered over a failing grade blowing off steam. Then Durand’s car explodes, and the mystery deepens. It seems Durand is keeping secrets.

An Ounce of Prevention by Adam Graham is a modern take on the traditional Marlow/Spade detective story with all of the tropes and none of the clich├ęs. Yes, the detective is a former cop with friends on the force, but he wasn’t drummed out for breaking the rules, and he didn’t quit because of departmental politics. His reason for leaving the force is much more personal and believable. Yes, there’s a femme fatale, but she’s neither cold-blooded nor calculating. And unlike the counter-culture anti-heroes most shamuses turn out to be, Jerry goes to Church, he loves his mother, he drinks Mountain Dew, and he hates when his employee chews gum.
The dialogue is well crafted and flows nicely and realistically. The characters have actual depth for the most part, although the villain is a bit on the caricature-side. The narration is appropriately hardboiled without seeming forced. Even the denouement and post-script are satisfying and unexpectedly more than a simple wrap-up. The story does have one flaw, however.
Without giving too much away, there’s a science-fiction twist to the story which is necessary to the tale the author wants to tell. However most of the players are either too eager to accept the discordant reality; or even if a character doesn’t embrace it, or if he explains it away, he’s too unconcerned about the mental states of those who do accept it. A few lines about a character being unable to process what he’d seen, or another character suggesting that his friend should see somebody professionally to deal with his delusions would have gone a long way to alleviate that issue.
Overall though, An Ounce of Prevention is a fun, short read that’s prefect for fans of both genres who enjoy a good cross-over storyline.
Adam’s novella can be purchased for the Kindle.
"You sound like an expert."
I nodded. "I should be. I was a cop for about eight years. Towards the end I worked the juvenile division."
"How long?"
Long enough to find four kids starving to death living in one room of an apartment with the body of their one year old dead baby brother thrown in a trash bag while the mother worked her meth lab. Long enough to spend ten straight days barely sleeping, looking for a missing boy, only to find he'd been dead the whole time with the mother covering for her psycho boyfriend. Long enough to hear people joking on the radio about a thirteen year old boy who was molested by his female teacher and long enough to attend the funeral after he committed suicide.
I stopped, rubbed my hand across my face, looked at the sky, and shook my head. "Too long."
"What do you do now?"
"I run a private investigations and security agency."
"So you're a shamus?"
I blinked and chuckled. "Shamus? Just because the dances were from the 1940s doesn't mean our dialogue has to be."
She laughed. "Last semester, I taught on Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler."
I raised a hand. "The life of a real private investigator is nothing like fiction. My firm has almost no interaction with the police. Most of our work is insurance investigation and security for businesses."
She grunted. "I know the difference between fiction and reality, thank you."
"Some people don't and they want to know about the last femme fatale I met or the last time I was knocked unconscious by a gangster."
We crossed the street to the parking lot. I pulled the parking stub from my pocket.
She asked, "Hasn't anything interesting happened at all recently?"
I walked towards Row H. "Only thing was a client was car bombed when we were watching him."
"Police have any clues?"
"I doubt it."
"Do they have any idea what the motive is?"
I shrugged. "Who knows?"
"Maybe he deserved it."
    I found my car and leaned on it. "I much prefer God and the courts mete out justice. Somebody other than my client could have gotten hurt. The courts may take a while, but they won't hurt innocent bystanders."