Thursday, May 25, 2017

New Release - THE MONET MURDERS (Art of Murder Book II)

So, remember when I mentioned falling off a mountain (okay, it was just a little mountain, but still) and had to push the release of The Monet Murders back another month because I'd injured my back and was medicated and things were really not going well?

Well, I did finally manage to finish the book and it released yesterday. That's the good news. The bad news is, in my panic to get the file uploaded before the deadline, I somehow (see above: two kinds of prescription pain medications were in play) grabbed the wrong damned file. And because I'd already waited to the last minute, there was no way of updating until the book went live.

Which it did. Missing about 15,000 words. And necessary words, at that.

The correct version is available on Smashwords, Kobo...and shortly Nook and iBooks, but it sounds like it's still going to be another (possibly) 24 hours before the correct edition is live on Amazon. Which means roughly 3000 people got that wrong version.

This is embarrassing. I CANNOT APOLOGIZE ENOUGH. I am sincerely sorry. I know how disappointing it is when you've been waiting and waiting and waiting and then the thing you've been waiting for arrives broken in the box.

(And, by the way, thank you to those of you who have been so very kind and understanding about the mix-up. My first ever mix-up, I want to point out, in all these years and all those books. )

Most of the people who pre-ordered through Amazon will not see this post, or any of my other posts on social media, so...if you should hear someone cursing my name down through the ages, it would be very kind of you to let them know what's happening. If their Kindle account is not set for automatic updates, it's unlikely they'll know to click that Updates Available button.

Anyway.

BLURB:

The last thing Jason West, an ambitious young FBI special agent with the Art Crime Team, wants—or needs—is his uncertain and unacknowledged romantic relationship with irascible legendary Behavioral Analysis Unit Chief Sam Kennedy.
And it’s starting to feel like Sam is not thrilled with the idea either.

But personal feelings must be put aside when Sam requests Jason’s help to catch a deranged killer targeting wealthy, upscale art collectors. A killer whose calling card is a series of grotesque paintings depicting the murders.

EXCERPT:

For a time he was occupied in playing shuffleboard with the buses and delivery trucks and taxis clogging the crowded streets, but inevitably his thoughts circled back to the passenger in the seat beside him.
Given how irate Jason had been at being conscripted into Kennedy’s investigation, it was odd that what he mostly felt now was a sense of letdown, even disappointment, that Kennedy would not be returning.
But wasn’t it normal that his feelings should be confused? The situation was just…so strange. All those months. And when they finally did get together…
Nothing.
Worse than nothing. It was like they had never met. Never made lov— Oh, hell no. Not that. Never had sex. That’s what he meant.
His anger faded, leaving him depressed, disheartened. What the hell had happened to change everything? He just couldn’t understand it. He was baffled.
Yeah. Baffled.
The traffic lurched to a sudden standstill. Jason’s phone vibrated. He ignored it. Around them, a few impatient drivers vented their frustration with honks, but the seconds continued to tick by. Pedestrians in every size, shape, and color crowded the sidewalk beside them, darting around the cones and sawhorses and hoses of the workmen tearing up the pavement with jackhammers. The pound of the pneumatic drills was not as loud as the silence stretching between himself and Kennedy.
In disbelief, Jason heard his own voice—hesitant, slightly strained—break the silence.
“Look. Did I…do something?”
“No,” Kennedy said at once. And that was a relief. A relief that Kennedy did him the courtesy of not pretending he didn’t understand. In fact, it was as if he had been sitting there thinking the same thing as Jason. “It isn’t you. It’s nothing you’ve done or didn’t do.”
He didn’t elaborate, though, so Jason—who already felt like he was out on a very flimsy limb—had to stretch still further.
“Because I don’t understand.” Excruciating to have to put this into words. His face felt hot, and his heart was pounding as though this was a high-risk situation. He was not used to it. Not used to…caring so much. It wasn’t that he’d never been turned down before or even been dumped. It always stung, but it hadn’t hurt. Not really. Not like this.
Kennedy didn’t answer immediately, and Jason couldn’t bear the silence.
“Is it the promotion? Are you thinking that I would somehow trade on our friendship? Or that other people might think I was trading on our friendship?”
“No,” Kennedy said, again adamant. “I don’t think that. And I don’t give a shit what anyone else thinks.”
So what the hell was it? Because he was not wrong, not imagining things. Kennedy was confirming it was over. But he wasn’t telling him why, and that really was the part Jason needed to understand. They’d talked two weeks ago, and there had been no hint that everything was not…
Was not what?
Okay? Fine? Normal? None of that applied. They’d had a long-distance relationship that was more like phone tag. In other words, they’d had nothing.
And kudos to Kennedy for recognizing that fact and breaking it off.
Although this was more like passive resistance than breaking it off. But whatever. Over. Done. Finito. Let it go, West. It only gets more embarrassing from here.
A couple of excruciatingly long seconds passed while he tried to think of a way to change the subject, scrabble to the solid ground of…anything, for the love of God. How about them Cubs?
The traffic ahead of them crept forward, and Jason eased off the brake, letting the Dodge roll a couple of inches.
Because I care about you, Jason. More than I thought I could.
His eyes blurred.
Jesus Fucking Christ. Was he about to cr—tear up over this? No way. And sure as hell not when Kennedy was sitting right beside him. For God’s sake.
Kennedy said suddenly, “I…like you. Nothing has changed.”
Right. Except everything.
Jason made a sound in the back of his throat that was supposed to be…not what it sounded like. Which made him angry and enabled him to get out a terse, “Right.”
“But it isn’t…practical to try to…” Kennedy was picking words as painstakingly as somebody gathering shards of glass. “It’s not enough to…build on.”
Wow. Maybe he was misremembering, but getting shot three times hadn’t hurt this much. And anyway, what the hell did that mean? It’s not like Jason had been pushing for more. He had accepted Sam’s terms. Not that Sam had really given him terms.
He wanted to say something to the effect of what he had said in Kingsfield: Whatever. It was just supposed to be a fucking date.
But of course it wasn’t just a date. Not anymore. Somehow they had managed to move beyond that never-to-be date to something more. Something deeper. And yet less concrete than even a date.
It made no sense for him to sit here like his heart was breaking when they didn’t even know each other. It was ridiculous. Pathetic.
“It’s okay,” he said flatly. “You’re right.”
He felt Kennedy look at him, but he kept staring straight ahead. He shrugged.
“I should have told you sooner,” Kennedy said. “Made my position clear.” Had it been anyone but Sam Kennedy, Jason would have said there was guilt—regret?—in his tone. “But I like talking to you.”
“Yeah. Well.” He was relieved his voice had steadied again, because inside he was a churning mess of confused emotion. Mostly pain. “I liked talking to you too.”

Neither of them had anything to say after that, and the nearby crush and crash of broken cement filled the distance between them.


Buy it!
Barnes and Noble
Amazon (but maybe you should wait until tomorrow -- seriously)

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Oh My Aching Back!

These might actually work
I'm way behind in updates and people are starting to get alarmed, so here's the update: I'm much better both mentally and physically. (Hopefully I didn't just jinx my recovery.)

Basically, I was recovering from that painful bout of sciatica (or so I thought) but progress seemed to be slow--I had this really awful limp if I walked any distance--and I thought I probably needed to push myself a bit more. Activity is actually good for sciatica. So is strengthening your core. I figured I needed a lot more of both. Which is how after a day of swimming, gardening and kung fu exercises I ended up in the emergency room.

That was a surreal experience. Happily, the memory is pretty foggy. Essentially, they were unable to help me. The injection they gave for pain had--I'm not exaggerating--zero effect. The pills they gave for pain, inflammation, spasm...were all ineffective. I could not eat, sleep or stay in one position for more than thirty seconds, and that went on for days. Three days, to be exact. I had three days of--again, not exaggerating--sheer agony before I was finally able to get in and see a GP.

Continental Plate?
The long and the short of it is three days of physical therapy a week for the next month and pain killers that actually work--but leave me mentally fuzzy (which is not optimum when you earn your living writing). I can eat, sleep, sit and even walk again. In fact, thanks to years of yoga and kung fu, I'm actually pretty flexible and still have excellent range of motion (to the astonishment of my physical therapist who says the patch of inflammation stretching from my back to my hip is as big as a continental plate).

There's nothing life-threatening here and I honestly feel silly even talking about it, except that my sudden disappearance needs some explanation.

Because sitting is really bad for sciatica, I'm using my chair time for writing--and basically abandoning all social media for now. Some lovely friends are filling in for me on my Facebook wall with great posts about writing and reading mysteries, and I know my Goodreads group always has lots to chat about whether I'm there or not. I'm not really responding to email right now.

That's where things stand at the moment. Marlowe the Evil Mastermind Puppy is doing great--he took advantage of my weakened state to start sleeping with us, but that's okay--The Monet Murders is coming along, slowly but surely, which is how I'm coming along. Slowly but surely.

1222222222222222222222222222qww (That's Marlowe signing off for both of us till the next time.)

 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Tall Timbers Falling

Last month I was hiking with friends at Vasquez Rocks and I slipped and fell. Ungracefully and painfully. It seemed like the only damage was a badly sprained right ankle, but it looks like I might have done a bit more harm than I realized.

Anyway, for the past two weeks...well, I guess three weeks since it coincided with the arrival of Marlowe the Mutt, and he's been dogging (ha!) my footsteps for nearly a month now...I've been suffering from sciatica. Which is really, seriously unpleasant because it hurts to sit (which makes typing difficult) and hurts even worse to lie down (which makes sleep largely impossible for more than a couple of hours at a time). So it's been hellish, although I realize as health issues go, it's minor.

Cutting straight to the chase, I've had to push back The Monet Murders again -- for the final time, I assure you -- which I am very sorry about. Not least because my finances rely on sticking to deadlines. But there are some things that just can't be bulldozed through, and it turns out that this is one of them. I don't want to crank out a book when I'm sleep-deprived and unable to fully concentrate--even if it was physically possible, which at this point, it isn't.

So that's that. The book will now be out May 25th.

In other news, Marlowe the Mutt continues to thrive and grow. Well, he's not growing much, but he is thriving, and he's pretty darned adorable, if I do say so. When I first scooped him out of that canine hell, my sciatica was at maximum misery level, and I can't deny that I did think I'd probably made a mistake but too late to turn back now. Not a joyous thought, to be honest. It turns out I was wrong because we love the little monster dearly, and if you're going to be in pain anyway, you might as well have something to distract you.

I've had to rearrange my schedule considerably. Mornings are now spent taking MtM outside and then feeding and playing with him (he is partial to chasing his squeaky stuffed raccoon toy up and down the staircase at top speed) ..and from there coffee on the patio seems a fairly natural move (and so much more pleasant than diving into email, though, frankly, that mental adjustment took some doing). I've been trying to swim a bit although it's a bit chilly right now. Supposedly the best thing is to keep moving, gentle stretches, etc.

Patience. A hard word to live by.

So that's where we are. The day before yesterday I bought some roses and tea lights and odds and ends for the garden. Yesterday I started catching up on email. Last night I actually slept through the entire night, so maybe the tide has turned. It's possible life is getting back to normal. Fingers crossed.



Friday, April 14, 2017

Happy Easter!

Yes, it's a bit early -- and not everyone celebrates Easter -- but it's a holiday I enjoy. It's not one of the big dates in the family pantheon of holidays, but in a way that's what makes it relaxing. We'll have the traditional ham dinner (I'm bringing a giant green salad with sprouts and nuts and seeds -- a meal in itself) and we'll have a few drinks and there will be a lot of talking and laughing.

What are you celebrating this weekend? Passover? Spring? A long weekend? A lost weekend?


Friday, March 31, 2017

New Release: PLENTY OF FISH

By request: Marlowe the Mutt
Regular viewers will know that I've been talking about getting a dog for a few years, but am constantly coming up with excellent reasons as to why the perfect moment never arrives. And as a matter of fact, the perfect moment has still not arrived, but I somehow ended up with a puppy anyway. It's a long story and he's more of a rescue operation than an actual reasoned purchase of the proper puppy...but we've had him for just about four days now and I kinda sorta can't help loving the little cheese mite.

His name is Marlowe and he is most definitely a nut. Er...mutt. Also a nut.

Also he is a huge distraction. Be that as it may, I did manage to get a little short story out this month. It's just a very simple best-friends-to-lovers bit of sweetness called "Plenty of Fish".

BLURB:
Finn loves Blair. Blair loves Finn too, but he’s not in love with him. How can you be in love with someone you’ve known your entire life? Shouldn’t in love feel…different? Newer. Bigger. More…exciting?

Sure, maybe Blair is too romantic—but wasn’t Finn the one who always said there were plenty of fish in the sea?

SNIPPET:
“I think I’ve met someone,” Blair said.

He was sitting on the wooden tool chest in Finn’s workshop, drinking a can of hydrogen  water, watching Finn sand the top of a rosewood William IV dining table.

“Yeah?” Finn continued to rub at a pale watermark with a piece of very fine oiled steel wool. He didn’t have to look up to know Blair’s eyes would be shining and soft and a little dreamy. Blair was in love with the idea of being in love.

Finn was also in love. With Blair.

Which maybe Blair knew and maybe he didn’t. There had been that one time last year, when Finn had kissed Blair and whispered, “I love you, Blair. Why don’t we give it a try?”

Blair had laughed, then looked confused and finally embarrassed when he saw Finn was serious. Finn had—not quite in the nick of time—managed to laugh too and pretend it was a joke. Blair’s eyes had lit with relief, though his quick smile had been a little uncertain.

Things had been strained between them for a couple of weeks but eventually had gone back to normal.

In fairness, Finn’s timing had been crap. As usual. Blair had just found out Logan was cheating on him, so even if he had been receptive to the idea of Finn eventually stepping into Logan’s shoes, it was not the time to bring it up. It was just that by then Finn had sort of reached his breaking point.
It hadn’t helped when he’d suddenly remembered how in junior high, Blair had kissed him behind the handball courts at Ernie Howlett Park, and he’d wiped his mouth and told Blair sternly to knock it off.

Jesus.

It had only taken him twelve years to figure out being kissed by Blair was actually something he’d really, really like. That it was, in fact, near the top of the Ten Things He’d Like Most to Happen in the Near Future list. Right below Sleep with Blair and right above Discover a Goddard and Townsend family cabinet—or other piece of valuable anything—the next time he was dumb enough to bid on an abandoned storage unit.

Anyway.

“Plenty of Fish?” Finn asked. He didn’t bother to hide his skepticism. Dating sites were for the desperate, in his opinion. Not including Blair, of course.

Blair said defensively, “People do meet people there.”

“Sure.”

“Carlos and I had fun.”

Finn sanded harder. The watermark had nearly penetrated all the way through the polish. “Yep,” he muttered. “Nothing more fun than a broken wrist.”

Carlos had been into mountain biking, which Finn had tried to tell Blair was different from regular biking. As usual, Blair had to find out the hard way.

Blair shrugged. “Louis was nice.”

“He sure was. I can’t think of anybody nicer than Louis.”

Louis had been into rock climbing, and Blair had discovered belatedly that he had a little problem with extreme heights. Their first and only date had been spent with Louis coaxing and cajoling Blair off the cliffside where he’d been frozen, paralyzed with acrophobia, for hours. Hours.

Louis had been a very nice guy, and Finn was grateful to him for not leaving Blair up there on “Touch and Go Face” in Joshua Tree National Park.

Blair said wistfully, “I liked Alec a lot.”

To which Finn had no reply. He stopped scrubbing the stained wood. Alec had been way too close for comfort. Blair had been on the verge of falling in love with Alec, and Alec had been on the verge of falling in love with Blair. The thing that saved them—or rather, saved Finn—was when Alec had been transferred to his company’s home office in Indiana. Blair’s mom had been going through chemo, so there was no way Blair would have considered leaving Palos Verdes.

Blair wasn’t saying anything. Finn studied him, and his heart seemed to crowd his rib cage. It had seemed to come out of nowhere, this…crazy development in his feelings for Blair.

And hopefully it would eventually return to nowhere.


****

You can buy "Plenty of Fish" through Kobo, B&N, Smashwords and Amazon. Hopefully it will be up at iBooks soon too! 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The VERY BIG 1/2 Price Novel Sale

I've never done this before -- and I don't know whether I'll regret it or not. ;-)  But I'm putting all the digital novels through my JustJoshin Publishing, Inc. imprint on sale at half price for one week only.

Starting tomorrow (actually, I think the prices are already changed on Smashwords) all my novel-length stories are $3.99. That includes Stranger Things Have Happened and Man Oh Man: Writing Quality M/M Fiction.

video


The books included in this are:

The Hell You Say
Death of a Pirate King
The Dark Tide
Stranger Things Have Happened
Man Oh Man: Writing Quality M/M Fiction
Murder in Pastel
The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks
Winter Kill
The Mermaid Murders
The Curse of the Blue Scarab
Somebody Killed His Editor
All She Wrote
The Boy with the Painful Tattoo
Come Unto These Yellow Sands


That's...a lot of books! 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

As someone of what the old folks used to call "Scotch-Irish" descent, St. Paddy's has always been a big deal in my family. For years it was a grueling marathon of a day -- gig after gig after gig (usually in pubs that grew more and more rowdy as the day wore on) -- but these days it's more likely to be relatively quiet, spent with family or close friends. The SO will cook corned beef and colcannon, maybe fix up a couple of Irish Mists...we'll listen to our favorite Irish bands and perhaps watch an Irish film (anything from The Commitments -- if you've ever been in a band, that is the film for you -- or something as nutty as The Quiet Man).

Not everyone makes a big deal of cultural heritage and ancestry--and that's absolutely all right (why focus on the past when you're headed toward the future?) but in my family, we don't forget. ANYTHING. EVER. You remember those stories about the Scots dumping Campbell soup into the sea during World War 2 relief efforts? Yeah. Where I come from, that was considered the right move. :-D

Anyway, is there a holiday that is special to you or your family? How do you celebrate your family ancestry or cultural heritage?

OR do you?




Sunday, March 12, 2017

New Release - FAIR CHANCE

Fair Chance, the final installment in the All's Fair trilogy is out today in print, ebook and audio.

The Blurb:
Elliot Mills comes face-to-face with evil in this follow-up to Fair Game and Fair Chance from bestselling author Josh Lanyon

One final game of cat and mouse...

Ex-FBI agent Elliot Mills thought he was done with the most brutal case of his career. The Sculptor, the serial killer he spent years hunting, is finally in jail. But Elliot's hope dies when he learns the murderer wasn't acting alone. Now everyone is at risk once again--from a madman determined to finish his partner's gruesome mission.

The Excerpt:
“Excellent choices, gentlemen.” The petite brunette waitress dropped her ticket pad in the pocket of her teeny tiny black skirt and bestowed a dazzling and impartial smile on both of them. “I’ll be right back with your cocktails.”
They were seated at Stanley & Seafort’s Steak, Chop & Fish House, one of their favorite places in town to dine on the evenings they weren’t in a hurry to get back to Goose Island. The food was fine. The bar was excellent. But more to the point, it gave them a chance to talk about the case on neutral ground. When Elliot had finally acceded to SAC Montgomery’s request that he visit Corian, one of Tucker’s stipulations had been that they not take the case home with them. From the point they boarded the ferry at Steilacoom, the topic of the Sculptor was officially shelved.
That was the goal anyway.
Tonight there was more to talk about than could be covered in the drive to the ferry.
Tucker sighed, loosened his tie and leaned back in the sofa-sized booth. Elliot gazed out the picture window at the stunning view of Tacoma and the blue waters of Commencement Bay Harbor beyond. He massaged his knee, which had started to ache.
Tucker glanced at Elliot. “If I seemed…harsh back there,” he began gruffly.
Elliot brushed the apology aside. “It’s all right. I get it.” He didn’t expect—or need—Tucker to pull his punches when they were working.
“You’re my priority. That doesn’t change. I genuinely believe your involvement is not critical, but even if I did think we needed your help, I wouldn’t be happy with this because I don’t think this is good for you. Or us.”
Well, hell. That was Tucker for you. No beating around the bush. And an unnerving ability to say aloud the things most guys, including Elliot, were not comfortable saying outside the privacy of their own bedroom.
“I know, Tucker. Like I said, I get it.” This ground was so well trod it was practically mud beneath Tucker’s handmade Italian shoes. “But just once I’d like to discuss the case without a preface from you on how much you didn’t—and don’t—want me involved.”
Tucker grimaced. Nodded.

They were silent for a few minutes. That was mostly weariness, though a small amount of irritation factored in. They were both too opinionated and strong-willed not to bump heads now and again. They’d learned over the past months that simply taking a deep breath and a step back usually took care of things.
The waitress appeared with their drinks. Whisky and soda for Tucker and a glass of California merlot for Elliot. He needed a drink after the day he’d had, but he would be taking pain meds that night for sure. He must have twisted his knee when he’d raced across Corian’s property to see who had opened fire.
Tucker’s expression was somber as he sipped his whisky.
Watching him, Elliot asked, “Do you want me to share my thoughts on my visit to Corian’s place?”
“If you think it’s relevant.”
Elliot let his head fall back, summoning patience.
“Sorry,” Tucker muttered. “It’s not pleasant watching a psychopath threaten your partner.” He threw the rest of his drink back.
Fair enough. Elliot would be struggling with that too, were the shoe on the other foot. There was nothing he could say to comfort Tucker, so he related his trip to Black Diamond and his encounter with Corian’s former neighbor.
Tucker mulled it over. “Do you think Corian was working with an accomplice?”
“I don’t know. My first instinct was no. Except…I’m not sure that was instinct so much as rejection of something I didn’t want to hear.”
“I watched the interview twice. I still can’t make up my mind.”
“Twice?”
Tucker was looking at his empty glass like he didn’t know what had happened to his drink. He caught the waitress’s eye and she nodded. He turned back to Elliot. “What I am sure of is there’s nothing he won’t do to wreck you.”
“Of course,” Elliot said. “We already knew that.”
Tucker’s expression drew a faint smile from him. “Come on, Tucker. We already know I’m the bad guy in Corian’s movie. He didn’t invite me over there because he thinks I’m the one person who can appreciate his artistic genius or have a civilized conversation with him, whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean. He wants me there so that he can dump his horror stories all over me and hopefully cause maximum mental distress.”
“That’s right,” Tucker said grimly. “He’ll try to get to you any way he can. Including physically, so don’t ever turn your back on him.”
“Is that literally or figuratively? Do you want me to shuffle backwards out of the room at the end of each visit?”
“I’m not joking about this.”
“I know. He’ll continue to be handcuffed and wear ankle restraints during our interviews. I’m not about to forget what he’s capable of.”





The Launch Party -- and you're invited! 





Friday, March 10, 2017

Epic Fail

I was reading an article the other day about how writing "short" will maximize profits--this was right after I'd watched a webinar on writing to market, which was right after I'd watched another webinar on understanding Amazon's algorithms.

Now I do enjoy writing short stories. They're excellent for exploring theme or a particular character dynamic--and I'm good at them! So I had no objection to that article. I thought it was interesting. And I think in this publishing environment, authors do need to think in practical, i.e., businesslike terms. There's nothing wrong with identifying and analyzing your target audience. Nor is there anything wrong with understanding Amazon's algorithms.

But yet I still felt a little depressed after an afternoon of...authorial self-improvement.

Which is probably illogical because writing is a business, and I'm the first one to get impatient with people who don't conduct themselves like professionals. But writing is also an art, and lately everything seems to be about the business of fiction writing and very little, if anything, about the art.

Even the rare posts that are ostensibly about writing, are usually thinly disguised promotion.

And I get it. This is an insanely competitive market. And by "this" I mean any genre you can think of.  There is no sub-genre of commercial fiction that it isn't swamped with new books and new authors, so it's only natural that we're all looking for an edge. It's like the Olympics. Now days winning is determined by a fraction of a fraction of a second. Your sunscreen can make a difference.

It makes perfect sense that we're all studying formulas and algorithms and trends like we're searching for a cure for cancer. I don't care how good you are, when the market gets this crowded and this competitive, you have to run a lot faster just to stay in one place.

But writing is also still an art.

I don't care how many of these marketing courses tell you it's not about writing, it's about productivity...if you consider yourself to be a real writer, if you take pride in the idea of being a writer, then you need to care about the work. You need to care about the words.

And that means you need to have the courage to experiment. To, yes, fail. Because it's through trial and error that you get better. That you get to the goal--at least, I think it should be a goal--of excellence. Excellence doesn't happen through copying what everyone else is doing. It doesn't happen through homogenization.

I mean, think for a moment about the numbing sameness of what's being published in this genre alone. The same covers, the same blurbs, the same promo tactics--and yes, even the characters and plots all sound the same. For. The. Love. Of. God.

Last year I wanted to experiment. I wanted to try something new. I was eager to push myself to try something new. So I put out two books that had some readers scratching their heads. Murder Between the Pages was a semi-satirical take on classic locked room mysteries. Some readers got it -- but a disconcerting number of readers did not get it. Were actively hostile to the very idea of it. HATED it.

It was one of my least successful titles -- joining the ranks of other not terribly successful experiments like Blood-Red Butterfly.

The other experiment was a monster mash-up. The Curse of the Blue Scarab. An Edwardian murder mystery with supernatural overtones. Some readers got it -- some did not. It too was not as successful as my contemporary crime thrillers. Several one or two star reviews. Genuine grievance at the idea that I would turn out something like that.

IT'S LIKE A DIFFERENT PERSON WROTE IT!!!!! 

:-D :-D :-D

(It's okay, by the way. I don't expect everything to be a huge hit with every single reader. Hell, even the most enormously successful of my books have a few people screaming they can't understand why anyone ever reads me.)

The point of writing is not to never get a bad review. The point of writing is not for every story to be a huge financial--or even critical--success.

What is the point of writing?


This is not rhetorical.

Why do you write? If you don't know the answer, ask yourself: why do you read?

What is the point, the purpose of all this literary exercise?

 If the answer is...to make a lot of money fast...well, okay. Whatever. This is not the post for you. But if you actually care about the work, care about what it means to be a writer--versus just another author--you can't be afraid to experiment, to try new things, to push yourself a little further. You must not be afraid to fail. 

Don't sacrifice art for the algorithms.

Friday, March 3, 2017

And Then My Puppy Ate My Homework

I'm not exactly sure what happened to February.

Well, true, the first part of the month I did have a couple of days of vacation. The annual island retreat with my sibs--I LIVE for those sisterly retreats.

And of course, February IS a short month (and every day counts in this biz).

That said, the month started out really well. Very productive, lots of writing -- particularly on The Monet Murders and the surprise, secret project Writing Killer M/M Suspense and Mystery. (Nice cover, eh? He seems very relaxed about the possibility of having to shoot someone.)

But I'm not just an author. (Is anybody "just an author" these days?) I also run my own publishing empire, so there were also contracts to read and sign (specifically two Thai and one German publisher), print collections to arrange (trying to do a holiday collection...waiting to hear from Carina Press on a couple of titles there) translations to arrange (Italian -- the good news is So This is Christmas will be released by Triskell Edizioni in December and The Monet Murders will be published through my own imprint in the summer), audio to arrange (and then files to listen to because I Trust No One).

Oh, and then Samhain announced that, Oopsie! Yes, they were actually closing as previously announced at the same time last year. Which meant scrambling to prepare those 6 titles for re-release: cover art, formatting for print and ebooks... Although, given Samhain's vagueness on when the titles will actually officially revert, I'm wondering if we really did need to scramble. But the point is...TIME. Precious time being gobbled up in chunks of minutes.

So...all those Samhain titles are pretty much ready to go, we're just waiting on the word. I will give readers a heads up: I'm not re-releasing The Dickens With Love until the holiday season--and I might not release Mummy Dearest until I have Bite Club ready to go. But all the other titles will be immediately available, once Samhain releases them to me.

Tick. Tock.

Big, big time suck there.

And there is this First Ever Mini Writer's Retreat, which also took up some time. If that should turn out to be a fun and productive thing, we might even do it again. Every couple of years. Maybe you would want to come?

Oh, and then of course I have a book release this month. Fair Chance, the final book in the All's Fair trilogy, is being released on March 13th.

And there is a blog tour! For which I had to write a LOT of posts. :-D

Here's the line-up:
Tour Schedule: 

Monday, March 6th - Tome Tender - Guest Posts
Tuesday, March 7th - Alpha Book Club - Guest Posts
Wednesday, March 8th - Books,Dreams,Life - Interview (Author or Character)
Thursday, March 9th - Rainy Days and Pajamas - Guest Posts
Friday, March 10th - Gay Book Reviews - Guest Posts
- -
Monday, March 13th - Joyfully Jay -
Tuesday, March 13th - The Silver Dagger Scriptorium - Guest Posts
Wednesday, March 15th - Bayou Book Junkie - Guest Post
Thursday, March 16th - http://dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com - Interview (Author or Character)
Friday, March 17th - Bewitched Bookworms - Guest Post


I won't be live and in person at any of these blogs because--as I mentioned--I'll be at my first ever writer's retreat. (Meaning first ever that I was "responsible" for--usually I am privileged to be the person asking everybody where my hotel is.) But I did write posts and offer a few giveaways. That said, most of the giveaways will be occurring at the Launch Party on my own Fan Page.  I don't want people just showing up to win stuff, but I have to admit, my mods give some seriously cool gifties away. So if you are a fan or do genuinely like to read M/M, you are very welcome to the party. Come! You'll have fun.

I'm hoping that you're seeing a pattern here, and that pattern is...there were a lot of interruptions to the writing. And then came the biggest interruption of all...my laptop died.

Which...you know, I still have a desktop, so I'm not sure why this felt like the end of the line (aside from the fact that I lost all the initial chapters of the writing book--and maybe some other files too) but the truth is I don't "create" at my desktop. I create on a laptop while sitting in a giant, comfy chair in front of a fireplace in my bedroom. :-D My desktop is on a desk in my downstairs office and I have to sit on a yoga ball and be sensible. That is really not what writing fiction is about.

When we come back from the writing retreat, we will have house-guests (beloved house-guests) for a couple of days, and then I have a concert (coz that's a thing in my life) and then, then, THEN I will finally be able to get back to writing The Monet Murders.

You see what I'm getting at.

I had promised to deliver The Monet Murders ahead of schedule--because at one point that looked very doable--and even Blind Side ahead of schedule. But that is not looking realistic now.

Now it looks like I will need to put out a short story in the interim. Plenty of Fish. Because I love short stories, short stories take me about a week to write and I need money.

Yes! I admit freely that as a professional writer, money is the fuel that keeps the engine cranking.

I read the funniest comment in a review a while back. Something to the effect that Josh Lanyon put this book out simply to earn money.

LOL

Uh...why yes. You are correct, little person. I put all my books out to earn money. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. I publish to earn money. I can write for my own pleasure. I need not involve anyone else in that alarming process. To make the hassle and stress of publishing worth it, I need to earn money. That's how I earn my living.

This is not a comment on people who choose to live in their mom's basement. Just saying I have to earn a living. Or why the hell would I go to the exhausting and stressful extreme of publishing my work?! Nobody publishes who doesn't hope to earn money. End of story.

Usually.

But I digress.

This is a very long explanation of why I'm having to recalibrate my previously stated plans. I'm genuinely disappointed at having to delay The Monet Murders and Blind Side.

The Monet Murders is being shoved back to its original April release date. Blind Side...should come out about six weeks later. But. Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans.

So I hope no one is too disappointed. Or at least no more disappointed than me. The books are coming. And I do genuinely believe that it's better they come a little bit late than that I try to shove them through at top speed. I think you would rather I take my time and deliver the best possible product, right?







Friday, February 24, 2017

The 7 Habits of Highly UNsuccessful Writers

I discovered a new writing biz tool last week and FOR ONCE it's actually worth every penny. It's called Amazon Book Report and you can discover more about it here. It's perfect for writers like me who have a pretty good idea of the math, but rarely sit down and actually DO it.

Anyway, I was inspired to then go and do the math on my audio backlist, and that's a different story. A sad story if you love audio books--and my audio books in particular.

But I'll save that post for another day. In the meantime, I can't help noticing that my FB feed (and Twitter) is full of people handing out writing and/or marketing advice OR people in despair over their writing careers. Okay, and also people gloating about their writing careers, but there are fewer of them and they haven't been at it long enough to know how seriously to take that gloating.

I've been around a while and I'm reasonably successful, so I thought I would share some of my observations with those who feel they are not getting the success they deserve.

THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY UNsuccessful WRITERS

1 - You never submit anything because you're convinced it's "not good enough yet." You started what you believe will be your greatest work five years ago, and so far you have written the finest three chapters known to man. But they do need a little more work before you move on to Chapter Four...

2 - You submit everything -- or you self-publish and you don't have time or money for editing, cover art, formatting or even another re-read. You are terrified that the gold rush will be over before you can partake of the shiny. You firmly believe that "good enough" is all it takes these days to be successful -- especially when combined with aggressive advertising and marketing.

3 - Instead of analyzing your target audience, you spend hours writing ranty posts in which you attempt to redefine genre or sub-genre and offer guidelines as to who should be allowed to play in the sandbox. You are sure that if you just keep ranting, you will ultimately part the waves and convince readers they don't like what they do.

4 - You write hostile reviews of other writers under a sooper-sekret name on Amazon and elsewhere. Don't worry, you're not going to be found out. The danger lies not in being unmasked. The danger lies in the fact you've let your jealousy and insecurity get the better of you. Instead of focusing on YOUR career, you're busy worrying about someone else's. This is not a winning mindset. Or a sign of mental health.

5 - You believe everything you hear about writing not mattering-- that's it's all about social
networking, your mailing list numbers, marketing and advertising. Here's a tip. The "writing" may not matter, but the "storytelling" sure as heck does. You need to write stories that a lot of people can't wait to read.

6 - You believe your reviews. The good ones, anyway.

7 - You think because you've had some success, you now know all there is to know and you don't have to keep trying new things, pushing yourself, reading, honing your craft...you don't have to pay attention to the market or your readers (you don't even know who your core readership is) or what's happening in the world around you. You believe that success is a stable thing and once you've reached it, you're set.




Agree? Disagree? Pretty basic stuff, right? Feel free to offer your thoughts below!  


Friday, February 17, 2017

Author! Editor! Author! Nicole Kimberling

This week I'm interviewing the madly multitalented Nicole Kimberling who happens to be the Editor in Chief of Blind Eye Books in addition to being one of my favorite writers. That's not a combination you stumble across every day. (Or at least I don't.)


In addition to being an excellent writer, Nicole has the gift of talking both knowledgably and accessibly about writing. She's witty, wise and can cook. Which is pretty much all one can ask for in both an editor and a friend.


So without further adieu, Nicole Kimberling.




JL - Tell us--at the risk of getting slammed with submissions--about Blind Eye Book's mysterious new imprint One Block Empire.


NK - So our original line, Blind Eye Books is all about science-fiction and fantasy.


One Block Empire is devoted to mystery and other kinds of contemporary stories. Basically, I decided it would be neat to expand our brand into stories set in the real world.


The first book in the line is Dal Maclean’s Bitter Legacy, a police procedural set in London’s Metropolitan Police Service (which the author assures me is a real place.)

 

JL - As you know, I'm a big, big fan of your Bellingham Mystery series. What attracts you to the mystery genre -- this is not the rhetorical question some might imagine because you started out in spec fiction. In fact, didn't Turnskin win a Lambda? So what drew you to these mean streets?

NK - Aw… how sweet you are.
What I love about mystery—especially the classic cozy mystery—is that it is an absolutely perfect vehicle for observational humor. You have the sleuth, who is basically a nosy outsider, going into these different subcultures as a newcomer and reporting on what he or she sees.
So you can write a mystery set at, oh, let’s say Pizza Expo in Las Vegas. And you’ve got this incredibly serious thing—decapitation—happening in a place where the witnessess are showgirls dressed in bikinis that look like they’re made of 3 slices of pizza. And you can make the murder weapon a huge scimitar-shaped mezza luna knife that looks like its from the middle ages.
And the juxtaposition of these images—between the horrifying and the absurd—creates this awesome cognitive dissonance that drives the sleuth (and by extension the reader) to keep trying to solve the mystery. I feel like the best mysteries take the sleuth to a place of true discomfort. Then when the sleuth restores order to the chaos there is this sense of massive relief.
JL - Pentimento Blues is the sixth and final novella in the Bellingham Mysteries series. What did it feel like writing that final chapter? Was it a relief? Bittersweet? Where are Peter and Nick twenty years from now?

NK - Yeah, I did feel a little melancholy. Peter was such fun to write and the city of Bellingham still has so many quirky people and places… But I felt like I’d covered most of the big areas of conflict between Peter and Nick and didn’t want to be that writer who starts inserting the “crisis of the week” just to keep the series going.
I did actually think about where Peter and Nick would be a couple of decades down the road. I feel like they probably acquire some children somehow. Like Peter would agree to watch his itinerant crack-head cousin’s kids for the weekend and then she might never come back. Something like that. Nothing planned or premeditated. Just Peter’s impulsiveness combined with Nick’s deep-down kindness leading to accidental parenthood.
Or instead of children they could accidentally acquire a bunch of alpacas. That’s also possible.

JL - You're Blind Eye Books' Editor in Chef. (HA! Little cooking joke there -- bet you never heard that one before) How do you balance your own creative needs -- heck, how do you even find time to write? -- with the needs of your authors and your publishing house? Do you find it difficult to switch back and forth?

NK - Yes, the transition can be rocky. For me writing fiction requires entering a relaxed, associative, expansive state. And that’s exactly the opposite of the critical, winnowing attitude required of an editor. And both of those are different from the strategic “We’re gonna take that hill, then go to sleep get up and take the next one,” mind-frame necessary to performing the duties of a publisher.
So I try to pick one job every week and just do that, reserving longer blocks of 2-3 weeks to make progress on a piece of my own fiction or to do my final edit another author’s novel.
JL  - What do you like best about editing?
NK I truly love helping authors develop their style and work their manuscripts up to their full capacity. Because one person writing alone can do a good book, but probably not an excellent one. Novel-length prose just has too many moving parts for one person to keep track of them all.

JL - If you had to pick, perhaps for the purposes of a blog interview, what would you say was the one thing lacking in the majority of manuscripts you end up rejecting?
NK - Originality. Do you remember that famous meme from The Player? “It’s like Goodnight, Moon meets Lord of the Flies!” Most of the manuscripts I get are more like, “It’s like X only gay!”
Except “X” is usually just some TV show like Charmed,*  or whatever movie was popular that summer. Even if the writing and voice are both good, a derivative story is always boring to me.

JL -  What do you like best about writing?

NK - I really enjoy immortalizing the unique people and quirky situations that pop up in everyday life—or at least in my everyday life. For the sake of fiction—and certain friendships—I disguise them. But most of the characters in my books, and even some conversations, were inspired by real people.
JL - What do you have planned for us in the way of more mystery or suspense? I know you're partial to decapitations--and they're admittedly infrequent in the cozy subgenre--but I think you're a natural for a cozy series with edgy, even black humor. Plus you like cats. So.
NK - Actually I tried to get a decapitation into Pentimento Blues but my writer’s group told me it was unnecessary, cartoonish and detracted from the story’s main crisis. So I took it out.
But in terms of a new mystery: I’m very slowly slogging away at a new book featuring a chef solving a murder that occurs in the cellar of the restaurant where he works. I have no idea when I will finish it but I figure as long as I keep going I will probably manage to get to the last page before I drop dead.
But I’m nearing the end of writing the third Special Agent Keith Curry novella, which is a crossover fantasy/mystery.

 JL - Name three favorite mystery tropes that may or may not be found in your stories past, present or future.

NK - The Intrepid Reporter
The Red Herring
The Evidence Dungeon
JL  - I know you don't have the time, but do you think you would make a good sleuth?

NK - Well, I am exceptionally nosy but I don’t exactly have the attention span for surveillance. I feel like I’d have all the good intentions of solving the murder but get distracted by some other, lesser curiosity (“What ARE the neighbors remodeling anyway?”) and miss some major clues allowing the murderer to slip past me. But I’d absolutely know what color of bathroom tile just went into the house next door.
Plus it’s hard for me to pay attention to anyone telling a boring story, which I think must be pretty common in RL detecting. So, on the whole it’s probably best if I leave actual sleuthing to others. J

 

*Full disclosure: Charmed is my least-favorite TV show, by far.

 
You can learn more about Nicole and her work on her website. Or follow her on Facebook and/or Twitter.