Friday, April 13, 2018

Good Idea or Bad?

In The Bootlegger's Legacy there was a prologue that detailed what happened to the main characters after the book concluded.  I always liked this in movies and thought it was especially appropriate for the TBL.  Many reviewers have commented on this addition as a aspect of the book they also liked.  I'm going to include a similar wrap-up in the first Vincent Malone book Santa Fe Mojo which should be available for preorder on Amazon in the first part of May.

 Buy on Amazon

(Little side-note TBL has just reached 156 reviews on Amazon with an average of 4.2 stars out of 5.  Thank you readers and reviewers.)

SFM is one book in a series unlike TBL.  But it still made sense to me to include information about what happened to the principle characters--not so much the on-going ones but this particular book specific ones.  Some of the people who's advice I respect said I shouldn't do that, matter of fact they said the prologue in TBL was not needed.  As you can see on some occasions, okay quite a few, I ignore advice.  I know some books should not continue on past the end.  But I can't help it, I like knowing what happened to the people in the book I have just gotten to know.  What do you think?

A Christmas Tradition

Part Three of Four

What was I going to say to Bobby?  Don’t even show me your gifts-- you’ve lost.  Wow, life was tough.  Bobby lived on Northrup but he lived across Key Boulevard, a major two lane street than ran right through the heart of the little city.  My parents had never forbid me going across Key, but many kids on my street couldn’t.  “Too much traffic”, was the most often mentioned parent reason.  As far as I knew the people weren’t different on that side, although it was a possibility.  

Bobby was all about sports.  He had no interest in anything else.  So naturally his also ‘only interested in sports’ parents bought him sports gifts.  These, of course, had great value in kids scoring.  But Bobby was hard to deal with, he was ultra-competitive.  If I assigned an eight to a new football, Bobby would insist it was an eleven.  If I said eleven he would demand a fifteen.  Unless he won he wouldn’t agree on any number.  Since I have dealt with Bobby before, I knew what to do.  

This year he received a new basketball.  I told him it was an eight, he insisted it was a ten.  I really thought it could be a fifteen but he won at ten.  We bargained away for some time with him winning every battle.  He was all smiles; he was the victor.  His grand total was thirty-two; but he was ecstatic that he had bested me in every negotiation.  None of us played sports games with Bobby, one reason was that he was much better than we were; but mostly it was just not much fun.

Once I was back across Key Boulevard I felt more relaxed.  It was only thirty feet of pavement but it was a real barrier, at least in my head.  Johnny’s house was next.  His mom was a school teacher and she yelled a lot.  Most of her yelling was directed at her husband who always seemed to be leaving.  Sometime later, when we were in Junior High, he left one morning and never returned. 

Johnny was the class clown.  He lived for only one thing –to make you laugh.  His biggest problem was that he wasn’t very funny.  We used to walk down Key to a small shopping center and buy things at the drug store or just gawk at things in the hobby store.  There were times in the summer we would make that journey every day.  On each trip we would pass a dry cleaner shop that had a woman sitting at a desk facing out to the sidewalk.  She apparently was the bookkeeper.  Each time we passed Johnny would put his face on the glass and blow.  This made an ugly face and it seemed to upset the woman.  It also left an unsightly mess on the window.  She didn’t think it was funny, I didn’t think it was funny; but Johnny thought it was hilarious.  

After a while when the woman saw us she would get up and go to the back of the shop, no doubt hiding from the hideous creature who made faces and smeared her window.  Even if she had left, Johnny did his face thing and laughed.  One day a man came out, he might have been the owner, he didn’t say, he told Johnny he would have to clean up that mess or he was calling the cops—he also let Johnny know that he knew his mother.  With no reason that anyone could have figured out, Johnny jumped around and made monkey noises at the man and then ran off.  It was obvious to me that Johnny had just insulted the man, but the man seemed unsure what to do.  He looked at me as if I might have an answer, I had none.  He went inside and I went home.  From that day forward we begin to walk on the other side of the street and only cross over once we reached the hobby store.  All Johnny ever said about that day was that the man had called his mother and threaten to have him arrested for damaging his window—he said “defacing”, but must have meant something else.  In a very strange way Johnny seemed to think all of that was funny.

Christmas had never been a big event at Johnny’s house. They had a tree but it was only slightly decorated and they had very few gifts.  Johnny had never won the Christmas gift rating game.  He didn’t seem to care but it was hard to tell for sure.  His biggest gift this year was cowboy boots.  That could rank pretty high on the kid’s scale, but he said they were hand-me-downs from a cousin who lived in the country.  Better luck next year Johnny.

Next: A Christmas Tradition Final

Friday, March 30, 2018

Art Show Santa Fe

Currently in the middle of writing the second Vincent Malone book; Blue Flower Red Thorns. Vincent is still in Santa Fe and involved in the big time art business.  You may not be familiar with the thriving art market that exist in Santa Fe.  Many people think the art is exclusive Native American or southwest art but the city also has many contemporary galleries selling art world wide.  According to the Santa Fe chamber of commerce "Santa Fe is recognized worldwide for its rich culture and diverse art community. The city hosts over 250 art galleries as well as a variety of museums and performing arts."  And also, "In terms of dollar sales, Santa Fe is among the largest art markets in the U.S. according to a study by the University of New Mexico's Bureau of Business and Economic Research."  

But of course even in the rarefied air of fine art there is lust and greed; which leads to murder and mystery; and another book!

Note: pre-order on the first Vincent Malone book; Santa Fe Mojo, should be up on Amazon on May 7th. Notice I said should be--scheduling glitches do happen, but that date is the target.

A Christmas Tradition

Part Two of Four

There had been two big incidents in the neighborhood for as long as anyone could remember.  One was when the bootlegger, who lived one street over, was arrested.  Everyone knew where the bootlegger lived but it was shocking when the police arrested the man.  While selling booze was obviously illegal most fathers thought he hadn’t harmed anyone and “don’t the police have better things to do than hassle our neighbors” was often said by various dads, some of whom were customers.  The other was a suicide.

Across the street from my house two houses down was a family who no one really knew.  They had a grown son who lived with them but he never spoke to anyone or even waved.  The parents were retired military and seemed very old.  Not much was known, but gossip had speculated that the son was staying with his parents because he had legal problems.  That bit of gossip was based on absolutely nothing other than the willful and unfounded claims of Mrs. Peters.  According to my mother, she read way too many books and had extreme ideas.  I heard my mother whisper to my father that she had a whole bookcase full of romance novels.  Sin did exist in Midwest City.

One day the grown son parked his almost new Chevrolet in the one-car garage and started the engine.  His mother found him many hours later and emitted a blood curdling scream before she collapsed.  Within a very short amount of time the police arrived and set-up a blockade with their patrol cars and uniform officers stationed around the small house.  No one saw the father that day, but the mother was taken away in an ambulance.  Soon other vehicles arrived and while observed by everyone in the neighborhood the son’s body was removed.  Shortly after the incident the parents moved out.  It was said the father had been put in a nursing home.  The house stayed vacant for many years and was still vacant when my parents moved to a larger house.

My journey on Christmas morning was first to Bills.  Start with the most difficult and work towards the easiest, a philosophy that served me well long after Christmas Day gift auditing duties.  Bill was prepared.  He had made a list with estimated value points.  He had definitely hit the Christmas gift jack-pot with a Giant Erector Set, the one with a functioning elevator.  On top of that he got a new baseball glove.  He was sitting pretty.  We argued some and debated, but he won me over and we agreed his score was a whopping forty-two.  A record.

Next up was Ernie.  I hadn’t been inside his house all that much, but when I was it was always a warm feeling.  His mother was very small and polite, more like a grandma than a mom.  His dad stayed outside in their garage where he had a wood working shop.  He made things, like tables and book cases and sold them at a small flea market near the fair grounds.  Not sure he had a job.  He had never said anything to me.  Ernie stepped outside wearing a new stocking cap and sporting some impressive gloves.  This was going to be a very competitive year.  Ernie was grinning like he was about to explode, he had something hidden behind his back.  “It is a miracle. I finally got one.”  He seemed in awe, I had no idea what he was talking about.  He brought it forward and showed me.  I still didn’t know what it was.  “It’s a slide-rule.”  This was something different, never had it been listed on the kids scale of gifts.  But, no doubt, even I knew this was on the same scale as an erector set.  After some thought I offered my opinion on value, Ernie looked offended.  He began a dissertation that covered more words than I had ever heard him say.  He talked about adding, subtracting, division, most of which I sort of understood; but then he mentioned logarithms, roots and powers, trigonometry.  The words lost meaning.  This was in another league.  Just based on the look on Ernie’s face this had to be the best genius boy gift of all-time, without further hesitation I declare the gift score, including the gloves and hat at an astronomical seventy-five.  Contest over, no one could beat this—except for maybe a motor scooter.  Congratulations were due to Ernie and his poor parents, they had reached the highest gift score of all time.  Ernie was beaming as I left.

Next Post --Part Three

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Christmas Story in March

My new blog plan is to post at least a couple of times a month.  Some of these posts may be just an excerpt from a short story or they could include some comments from me; not sure what will be available on a bi-weekly basis.  The first short story will be serialized in this blog over four posts.  This story from my childhood will be about a different time and to a large extent about a different place--it is also a little out of season--A Christmas Tradition.

Hope you enjoy!

A Christmas Tradition
Part One of Four

Christmas morning in 1954 was a joyous mixture of giving and receiving along with a little gift score tallying.  My family lived in a modest, I would guess about eight hundred square foot, two-bedroom house.  It was just like all of the other houses on our street, East Northrup Drive in Midwest City, Oklahoma.    The first streets in the new town were named after generals, local VIP’s, airplane companies and other references which somehow linked with the massive air force base just to the south of the small but expanding city.  Most residents had some direct connection with Tinker Field.  Usually one family member worked there.  These were largely lower income families who had the greatest of expectations for their future and the future of the country.  Optimism was the norm.  There was a sense of oneness that was no doubt based on a rather homogeneous look of the residents.  It was a predominantly white Christian population with a strong influence of puritan attitudes, and old-time Oklahoma farmer resilience.  Bigotry existed but was kept under the surface, but not far under.  Luxury wasn’t normal and more often than not was measured by an abundance of food.  Authority was respected and schools were honored.  School Christmas plays with a manger and wise men were traditional and well attended.  Almost all people went to church on Sundays, whether they believed or not.

For most, Christmas morning meant gifts, often many, many gifts.  The feeling of great optimism about the future gave people the courage to over-spend, even though their depression era parents wouldn’t have approved.  Within this bubble of innocence and joy there was the score keeping.  Which kid on the block, often extending a couple of streets over, got the most and the best gifts.  A rating system of sorts had developed.  Electric train sets were a ten, apples and oranges a definite one; and of course the dreaded grandmother bag of nuts, a zero.  A system devised by little boys, girls weren’t involved.

My particular competitors were Donny, Ernie, Bill, Bobby and Johnny.  Sometimes some other kids were involved but this was the core group.  Bill was always the hard one to figure.  In a fortunate or unfortunate occurrence, Bill was born on December 24th.  His birthday and the birthday of Jesus were almost the same.  His parents claimed he still received the same number of birthday gifts as any kid born in August, but of course, Bill knew that wasn’t true.  They would separate them and mark some birthday and some Christmas, but Bill suspected his mother just divided ‘em in half without much thought.  So how to keep score.  It was decided after lengthy discussion that Bill could decide which were birthday and which were Christmas, not his mother.  Everyone trusted Bill.  He was the fat kid in our group, although he wasn’t really all that fat, which somehow to the poorly developed brains of little boys made him a truth teller.  Everyone trusted Bill to make a fair division of the gifts.  Plus, Bill had a little brother named Timmy, who everyone hated.  There was great sympathy for the burdens Bill had to endure.

Everyone else was fairly easy to calculate with some discussion and negotiating, but mostly there was agreement as to value.  The other exception was Ernie.  Ernie lived several blocks off of the street everyone else lived on.  It was perceived that Ernie’s parents were poor.  Mostly Ernie got hand-me-down clothes, new socks, new underwear and candy.  In kid terms not much value depending on the candy; but because kids have an innate sense of fairness the rating system allowed some higher points for things like gloves and hats.  So, if Ernie struck a glove-hat goldmine, he could still win.  Ernie was a genius.  All the other students knew it and, of course, the teachers knew it.  Since he was so smart, he wasn’t allowed to decide much, because he had an unfair advantage.  This was the beginning of a formal society structure in which the smart kids stood by and watch the dumb kids mess things up.

My job was clear.  I gathered the facts.  This was due to my parent’s lenient attitude about me leaving the house and visiting my friends on Christmas Day.  Both my mom and dad worked, not the typical family at the time.  My dad worked two jobs, one at Tinker and one at a local shoe store.  Christmas was a day off for them, and they didn’t have many of those.  In addition to their desire for peace and quiet, was the fact that the neighborhood was absolutely safe.  Kids were out and about all of the time, without supervision.  Parents would have thought it odd to “watch” their kids play. 

Next Week: Part Two

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Unless you lived in Oklahoma City in the 1960s this story may not be familiar to you; but much of the circumstances described in this book are true.  The newspaper war that is at the center of Tommy Jacks world was actually happening.  One of the main characters, Taylor Albright; was based on a real person.  He was someone I knew and spent a lot of time discussing all of the important matters of the day.  I owned a printing business where he printed his gossip tabloid.  Never got paid for any of that, but it's long past now.  This, of course, is a book of fiction; although based on some truths.

If you have not yet read this book, you should.  Buy it Now!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Free e-books on Amazon

One of the marketing tools used by myself and other indie authors is limited time free e-book promotions.  These free book days are then promoted on book promotion web sites and generate a lot of new readers. Beginning with my April newsletter I will start publishing these dates in advance for that month.  This will give you an opportunity to get one of my books maybe you have not read FREE! Or if you wanted to recommend one of my books you could pass along the date for the free book to a friend.  Obviously giving away books does not make me anything, but it is a way for me to build a following of readers--and hopefully get some good reviews; which does help me sell more books.

If you have not signed up for my email list on the web site you can do that here.

Upcoming free e-book promotions on Amazon.

March 13        Sky High Stakes
March 23        Dog Gone Lies
March 24        Murder So Strange (Latest release)
March 30        The Bootlegger's Legacy
March 31        Murder So Strange

Remember sign up for the monthly newsletter to get the free dates for April.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

2018 -- Big Year!

2018 is shaping up to be my biggest year yet.  In the next week or so the 2nd Muckraker Series book will be released: Murder So Strange.  Lots of intrigue; and twists and turns in this one.

Also this year the following books will be published:

  • Santa Fe Mojo.  This is the first in the Vincent Malone Mystery series.  This is a throw back to the hard-drinking tough guy PI of yesteryear, but the story is a current day story about that aging investigator and his search for a little calm at the end of his days.  This first book introduces the Blue Door Inn in Santa Fe where Malone has taken a dead-end job as a van driver.  Soon there is a murdered famous sports agent and the suspects are his guests at the Inn who are his professional sports clients.  Lots of fun for me, hope you enjoy this new series.
  • Murder On Account.  This is the third book in the Muckraker Series featuring Tommy Jacks as an enterprising reporter in the 1960's political world of Oklahoma.  This story focuses on the U.S. Senate race with three very interesting candidates.  Tommy Jacks is in the middle of all of the action.
  • Blue Flower Red Thorns.  Second book in the Malone series.  He is still in Santa Fe and finds himself involved with the marijuana business in Durango, Colorado helping the son of two of his co-workers at the Inn.  Also he is trying to solve the disappearance of a newly famous Dutch contemporary artist who is the featured artist at a major art show in a famous Santa Fe art gallery.  Soon death and murder rear their ugly heads.
Definitely has been a busy time for me.  All of these books are in some stage of editing and production except for Blue Flower Red Thorns which I'm currently writing.  Thanks for your support as readers.  If you have not already, it is a great benefit to me to have you review my books on amazon.  Reviews drive sales which is how I survive to write more books.  I would like to say only good reviews but actually your thoughts about the books are welcome even if not five stars (just not as much).

Sunday, February 4, 2018

New Cover and New Book

While looking at options for the cover of book 2 in the Muckraker Series: Murder So Strange it was decided that the cover for Murder So Wrong needed to change to match up with the new series look.  So it was changed--may be up on Amazon already, if not now, in a couple of days.

Murder So Strange should be available before March 1st on Amazon.  Hope you are enjoying this new series with co-author Stan Nelson.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Indie Author

Was asked the other day what it meant to be an indie author.  Mostly what it means is that you have little structured support for the process of writing books and also the marketing of those books.  You are on your own.  Okay not completely.  I have help with editing, cover design, formatting and some distribution aspects from two great people Saul Bottcher and Nas Hedron.  Maybe it just seems like you are alone on most days.

It was great writing the Muckraker series with Stanley Nelson in that there was someone else involved who could provide a different perspective.  His input was an important element in the authenticity of the story line regarding journalism. Although when in doubt, I just make things up--it is fiction.

The real challenge for an indie author is promotion/marketing.  I would guess that this is not the strength of most indie authors.  You write your book, deal with all of the details of having a finished book, get it on-line and nothing-- now what?  Especially if it is your first book, unless you have done a great deal of prepublication marketing (costing lots of money, which most indie authors do not have), nothing happens. No sales, no reviews --nothing.  I have no idea how many one-book authors there are on Amazon but I would guess a lot.  It is very discouraging to have written a good book and no one reads it, because it is lost in the forest of on-line books for sale.  So many of those authors I'm sure just give up.

I've been fortunate to have found a loyal following for my books.  Winning some awards and having good reviews have helped me generate a base of readers.  Reviews are a big part of finding new readers.  I really appreciate everyone who has reviewed my books--of course, there are exceptions.  Occasionally I will get a less than stellar review.  Ouch!  But mostly they are good.  Reviews are a real key to selling books.  And it is selling books that allows writers to write.

Keep reading!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Tommy Jacks My View Columns

One of the unique features in the Muckraker series is the newspaper columns written by Tommy Jacks; usually appearing after each chapter.  Tommy Jacks is the main character in the Muckraker series.  He is a recent graduate with a journalism degree.  He lands his first job with a struggling, relatively new daily newspaper; the OK Journal and through an unusual set of circumstances is asked to write an opinion column focused on politics.  He soon takes over the name My View for his columns at the request of the publisher, that name has a lot of history attached to it and presents new challenges for Tommy.

The columns often continue the story line from the primary text but sometimes they veer off and cover national news occurring in this time period; the 1960s, or delve deeper into the weeds of local political happenings.

The columns also give Tommy a platform to hammer at the lack of movement by the authorities regarding unsolved murders that have occurred within his world.  And of course an opportunity to land a few well deserved punches to some of the more unworthy political operatives walking the halls of the capitol.  After all he is a muckraker.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Muckraker Series Update

A little behind the scenes news.  The second book Murder So Strange is in stage two of editing with an anticipated publication date of March or April of 2018.  And the third book in this series Murder On Account has just been completed.  This is a first draft and there is still a long path to a completed book.

I hope you have enjoyed Murder So Wrong and will continue reading this series.  We appreciate your input via email or reviews on Amazon or Goodreads.

Some readers have asked me why the e-books only appear on Amazon.  This is due to marketing programs that are offered by Amazon in exchange for exclusive rights.  I know that has annoyed some, but it has made sense regarding our limited marketing budgets.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Murder So Wrong

The e-book of Murder So Wrong is now available on Amazon.  Paperback should be available next week.  The wheels keep turning toward something, maybe a surprise ending.  Book 2: Murder So Strange is in the works and should be fully baked in a few months.  Thanks for being a reader.