Friday, November 9, 2018

Books That Mattered To Me

Tweeted a list of 40 books you should read before you die made up by some book critics for a British web mag.  Thought they were interesting with some odd choices.  Made me rethink my list of books that mattered to me.  

Started to wonder what books had influenced me the most.  This is different then the best books.  These are books that had an impact on me for one reason or another.  Some of this list is authors rather than any one book.

Lord of the Flies—William Golding.  I found this book to be very disturbing.  The world of stranded children was fascinating and troubling in its assumptions.  It has stayed with me for a long time.

Catch-22—Joseph Heller.  One of the most powerful and funny books I have ever read.  How the humor was mixed with war horror was an amazing job of writing.  This is the only book this author wrote and it’s one of the best.  Went to the movie, was offended and left early, this was a story that could only be told as a book inside someone’s head.

Dune—Frank Herbert.  I have read a lot of sci-fi while growing up and tended to enjoy most of it.  This was a classic from the moment I read the book.  Capturing the texture of an entirely different place with such depth was great writing and a offered a splendid experience for the reader.

The Great Gatsby—F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Rich people partying, how can that make a great book; well it did.  Amazing characters both good and bad.  I thought it was a very sad book.  Usually that's not what I want to read but this book provided a greater depth to the sadness and had real impact.
Lord of the Rings/Hobbit—J.R.R. Tolkien.  The great adventure book.  This series of books absorbed me for hours.  One of many writers who has taken me to a new world to explore good versus evil in unique and insightful ways; but this is the best.  

Raymond Chandler.  I loved his books.  Great influence regarding my series Vincent Malone.  Thank you Mister Chandler.  The Big Sleep was my favorite.

Robert B. Parker.  This is not great literature, thank god.  Enjoyed every one of these even when they became obviously just another short story sold as a book to make money.  Spenser is a great character along with his pal Hawk.

Great Expectations---Charles Dickens.  Dickens was a great writer of popular fiction; which is to say he told stores people liked.  This one stuck with me in its unusual analysis of some of our more human flaws.  Another sad book to me; and I keep saying I don’t like sad books.

The Catcher in the Rye—J.D. Salinger.  Never was real sure if this was a great book or just a popular book; maybe that is not important.  The book felt important to me when I read it and definitely provided a lot of adolescent deep thought.  

One more thought.  I read all of the Ayn Rand books back in the day.  I know these books have some lingering importance in our political world but these were some of the worst books I have ever read.  They were not only bad but very, very long.  What a waste of time.  I read them because they were “important”, they were not.


Murder So Final, the last book in the Muckraker series is in it's final review stages.  Anticipating an e-book release date in December.  If you have not read the first two books you should check them out.  Murder So Wrong is the first book in the series.

Fiction No More, the third Vincent Malone book is in the editing stage.  Release date for this book looks like February 2019.  Good time to catch up with Vincent in the second book; Blue Flower Red Thorns.  

Monday, October 15, 2018

Reading For Pleasure

As an author I'm obviously very interested in the trend where people say they can no longer read for pleasure because they can't maintain concentration.  Great article in The Guardian that discusses this and relates it to our use of social media and our always on communication tools, which seems to teach us to scan but not to concentrate for very long on what we are reading.

Here was a key paragraph about reading for pleasure:

"One thing that many people who feel they have lost the ability to concentrate mention is that reading a book for pleasure no longer works for them. We have got so used to skim reading for fast access to information that the demand of a more sophisticated vocabulary, a complex plot structure or a novel’s length can be difficult to engage with. Like anything, single-minded attention may need relearning in order to enjoy reading for pleasure again, but close reading in itself can be a route to better concentration. To help that, read from an actual book, not a screen: screens are too reminiscent of skim reading and just turning pages will slow your pace. Read for long enough to engage your interest, at least 30 minutes: engagement in content takes time, but will help you read for longer."

I know there will always be people who read for pleasure and who love books; but those numbers are decreasing.   The ability to concentrate, of course, is more critical than just reading books for pleasure.  This article mentions interruptions and distractions leading to a drop in IQ.

"In 2005, research carried out by Dr Glenn Wilson at London’s Institute of Psychiatry found that persistent interruptions and distractions at work had a profound effect. Those distracted by emails and phone calls saw a 10-point fall in their IQ, twice that found in studies on the impact of smoking marijuana."

Dumber and no ability to concentrate on complex matters; wonder what that will lead to?


The final book of the Muckraker series Murder So Final will be available soon--most likely in November.   Still a few editing steps, but it's close.  In light of the above article I started thinking about these books.  You talk about a challenge, the Murder books maybe an example of a good story that some might find too complex.  Not by design but because of the time frame of the books and the true nature of the story there are lots of characters.  So many that some may find it hard to keep it all sorted out.

I'm in the process of putting together a character list with some brief info on each character--there really are lots of them.  That's not to say the story is confusing, just detailed.  I think these books tell a fast moving story with lots of twists and turns, along with humor and irony; but of course I helped write them.  This character list will be included in the "back of the book' section in Murder So Final.

You should check these books out- I think they are worth the effort.

Saturday, October 6, 2018



The preliminary work for an audiobook of Santa Fe Mojo has started.  This is new to me so each step has an exciting but cautious feel.  When you write a book, or for that matter when you read it--there is a voice in your head telling the story.  This is of course very customize-able.  As the reader you get to hear the voice you want--it fits your impression of the written words describing the characters and the scene.  I guess to me that is the way it should be--you hear the story in the voice that makes sense to you.  I think that is why reading books is more immersive than say watching a movie or TV.  You help construct a key element of the book in your head--the voice. 

Today the market for audiobooks is reaching the same levels as e-books and the audiobook market is projected to grow substantially larger than written books.  Of course some readers will always prefer to "read" rather than "listen".  But as an indie author I can't ignore this growing market.  So soon my first audiobook will be available. 

The process involves selecting a narrator.  And yes, for sure, I'm not doing the narration.  It might take years for me to get a clean reading of one of my books; and then it most likely would be bad.  So the fist step in this process is to hire someone who knows what they are doing and who sounds "right".  Sounds right is of course very subjective.  So this may take awhile.  My guess at this point, this is probably a three month project to have a completed audiobook, but since I'm new at this there could be delays I can't see right now.  I will keep you informed.  I would appreciate any thoughts you have about audiobooks in general or specific things you have liked or disliked.  Thanks.

Those very words may not mean much--but think about a book tour of book stores only on-line with bloggers who write about books.  The tour will last one week and involve 7 blogs with interviews, reviews of the book and more.  I will be giving interviews discussing my books, writing process and future plans--but never leave home.  (easy way to tour).


Next time your in your local library you might request a paperback copy of one of my books.  Libraries quite often honor these requests (there are easy ways for them to order one or a few books) and it would give you a chance to read the paperback version if you have not.  An actual book has a different feel to me than reading the e-book--plus it helps me sell some more books.  Crass commercialization.  Okay, sorry.

Friday, September 14, 2018

What's Next?

Still getting inquires about Four Corner Wars.  This is due to the preview in the back of Sky High Stakes and that it states it will be published in 2016.  Oops, kind of missed that one.  I have written before on this blog about my sinking into a mental block regarding this book.  I never finished it.  To break out of the funk I took on another project; which was co-writing the Murder So ....... books with Stanley Nelson.  That worked and I began writing again, but never finished FCW.

I've tried to finish several times but there is still some kind of mental block and of course by now it has been a long time since I was in Ray Pacheco's world.  But with some hesitation I have decided to try and finish this book, as it is the last Pacheco and Chino book. 

My current schedule of books on the visible horizon are as follows:

Future projects:

Murder So Final—The Muckraker Mystery Series #3
Oklahoma Governor’s race could be the nastiest ever seen.  Tommy Jacks, political columnist, is right in the middle of dirty politics, murder and corrupt business.  Set against a backdrop of on-going newspaper wars involving almost everyone in Tommy Jacks family is a political race featuring a corrupt oil company thug, a political novice with a good heart and a preacher who should have stayed out of politics.  Oklahoma politics at its worst or maybe best!

This will be the final book of the Muckraker Series.

Fiction No More—Vincent Malone Novel #3
Mystery writer attending an author’s conference in Santa Fe thinks she is being stalked by a man who has followed her from Chicago.  Vincent Malone comes to the aid of the writer and discovers the stalker thinks the writer knows who killed his father in the 1980s because the authors first book was not fiction but an actual account of that murder.  Archeology, artifacts, and crimes from the past weave into a mysterious plot.

There are at least two more Vincent Malone books scheduled:  Durango Two Step and Run To Noble

Four Corners War---Pacheco & Chino Mystery Series #3
Navajos, Apaches, militias, good sheriffs and bad sheriffs come together in a small town landscape that involves millions in stolen money and a small army of stolen military equipment.  Is this some strange beginning of a Four Corners War?  Nothing seems to be what it should be; as Ray Pacheco and Tyee Chino try to untangle the mix of greedy businessmen, corrupt politicians and a slightly unhinged sheriff along with dead bodies.  

This will be the final book in the Pacheco & Chino Series.

As I have demonstrated with FCW sometimes my plans don't work out--but as of right now this is what I see coming up. 

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Blue Flower Red Thorns Now Available

Blue Flower Red Thorns the second Vincent Malone Novel is now available as an e-book on Amazon

The high-end contemporary art scene drops into Santa Fe, New Mexico with ugly feuds, sexual entanglements and murder.  Vincent Malone, one-time attorney transformed into legal investigator; now down-on-his-luck shuttle driver biding his time until retirement, is right in the middle of all of the action.  His new employer, the Blue Door Inn, is hosting a big international artist in Santa Fe for her U.S. debut and nothing is going smoothly.  Soon there is one dead body and lots of suspects.