Friday, December 13, 2013

SAVING THE WORLD--The psychological thriller which took a decade to get here.

Ever since my short story, Saving the World, received a Pushcart Prize nomination over a decade ago, I've been planning to extend the story into a novel.  The premise of the original story was about a clairvoyant teenage girl who visits a psychiatrist to warn him about these invisible aliens who are going to destroy the planet.  She's a true clairvoyant and proves it while reading the psychiatrist's mind at will.  Since the alien's are invisible, she's the only one who can hear their thoughts.  The psychiatrist is then told he has to come up with one reason Earth should be spared from obliteration.  His reason is a touching account of brave soul who dives to his death to save his infant son.  The story works and the aliens move on to another planet. The human spirit survives.

The novel with the same title is based on the same characters, but now when Margo Sutter comes to visit the psychiatrist, there's an entirely new set of baggage to overcome.  Her story is on the cover of Time Magazine and half the population believes the apocalypse is upon us, while the other half believe she's mentally unstable.  The psychiatrist, Michael Bryant, has just lost his wife and daughter to a drunk driver accident, so he's closing his practice.  He wants to leave and find a way to destroy his own life. It's not until a rogue FBI agent stalks Margo that the psychiatrist gets involved.  A priest friend of Bryant's believes that Margo is an angel brought down to save Bryant's soul. The FBI agent believes she's an alien herself and he's trying to kill her in order to save the planet.

The scary part? 
Someone is right.

Currently the thriller is an Amazon E-book exclusive for $2.99.  Other formats will follow, including a print version down the road. 


Sunday, November 24, 2013


Ever wonder why so many musicians end up singing duets together?  Do they just like each other so much that they want to work together?  Sometimes.  Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin-of course. Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow?  Hmmm. 

More times than not, however, the incentive is usually money.  How?  Well, it's all about crossover sales. The band or singer's fans are introduced to an entirely new group of listeners who hadn't know much about that band until that big duet together.  Think Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty's "Stop Dragging my Heart Around."  You think that didn't help those two artists reach over and capture the other artist's fans?  You bet it did.

Now why would I bring up collaboration on a mostly writing/reading blog?  Because writers have been collaborating for as long as musicians have.  James Patterson publishes ten books a year. You think he's doing all that writing by himself?  The reason I bring this up is because I've just been invited to participate in a collaboration myself.  Indie superstar J.A. Konrath recently invited readers of his blog to send him stories using one of his characters in the lead role.  After that he was going to decide whether it was good enough quality to develop a collaborating relationship with him.  I'm here to tell you he really enjoyed a short story I wrote using his Jack Daniels character which will be published early next year.  Yes, Joe will be rewriting the story with me by emailing the newest versions back and forth until we have a finished product, so it is a true collaboration.  As a matter of fact my newest Nick Bracco thriller is destined to have one of Joe's characters in that as well. 

So is this all about the money?  Partially yes.  Because let's face it, Joe will receive the benefit of gaining some new Nick Bracco readers and I'll certainly benefit from an introduction to part of his enormous fan base.  At no point, however, would I ever publish something inferior just for a payday.  This is all about the future and expanding my reach.  If I can establish a large enough fan base of my own, it will make it so much easier to transition into a full time writing career.  And after all, isn't that what we writers all dream about?  The ability to write all day?

I'll keep everyone posted about the future of this collaboration and how it progresses.  Right now I'm very excited about the possibilities and there will be more publishing news to come very soon.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


On August 5th of this year Jeff Bezos announced he was buying the Washington Post for 250 million dollars.  Even though that's the kind of money Bezos carries around for lunch, it seemed like a dubious investment.  I mean newspapers are dying.  The Post had incurred a 44% drop in revenue over the past six years.  Why not wait another year or two and pick it up for 100 million?  Let's face it no one else was bidding for the darn thing.  It sounded like an investment in an 8-track tape manufacturer. 

I've searched everywhere for reasons why he did it and every publication which reported the purchase  explains that Bezos really loves the written word.  You know what else Bezos loves? Money.  So why would investing into a dinosaur industry be a wise investment?  Because although newspapers are slowly disappearing, news isn't.  That means very talented journalists are becoming a rare commodity.  The few that haven't jumped ship to other forms of media (blogs, podcasts, etc.) are finding fewer and fewer options to utilize their skills. 

One thing I haven't seen anywhere is the concept that Bezos would place a free Washington Post app right on the front screen of every Kindle Fire they sell.  That means millions of tablet users will have access to the Washington Post for free.  Who doesn't like free?  And with free access to a well established newspaper entity like the Washington Post I would suggest that readership will skyrocket.  Once that happens, revenue from advertisers will skyrocket as well. 

Although I've never seen this announced anywhere, it's not hard to imagine this becoming a reality.  And that brings me to the real subject here--the future of publishing.  Let's face it, for decades the publishers held the keys to the publishing world.  Why? Because they held the keys to distribution.  But with digital technology allowing anyone to become a distributor, publishers are becoming less and less relevant.  The ones who really hold the power now are the true digital distributors, Amazon and Apple.  Amazon already owns several publishing companies already so it's not beyond the realm of possibilities that they would create their own magazines for specific genres.  I'm speaking fiction and nonfiction.  With so many talented freelance writers out there searching for a home for their byline, content is dirt cheap.  And Amazon can distribute digital magazines for pennies.  So the content is cheap and distribution is cheap.  Anyone know why Jeff Bezos is one of the most successful entrepreneurs on the planet?  He thinks two steps ahead of anyone else.

Does this mean print newspapers and paper magazines are going away?  No.  You can still purchase vinyl records if you wish.  But the future of newspaper and magazine publishing is certainly digital, and there are no better companies positioned for that form of distribution than Amazon and Apple.  Who will be the first to break through this market?  In my opinion Jeff Bezos has just placed his bet on the table.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


I have known Tim McDonald for a couple of decades now and he is probably one of the most overlooked singer/songwriters I've ever heard.  I spent one summer listening to his "Everything in Nature," CD and never once tired of it.  The fact is, he's a true Indie artist in the most complete sense of the word.  When I saw his post in Skope I knew I had to place it on this blog.  Listen to the frustration in his voice.  I'll bet a lot of Indie writers can empathize with his plight. 

Now, here's Tim:

How Not To Make It In the Music Business


I had the same dream as every other unsigned musician when the internet (supposedly) leveled the playing field. This is going to be great, I remember thinking. I can just do it on my own now!  Who needs a label? All I have to do is put it out there, right?  And so I did that. And that’s what we’ve all done for the past ten years at least, hoping for the best. But do you want to know a secret…do you want to know what happened?


Nothing. That’s what happened, and I’m still pissed.


Well, I guess I’m over it for the most part. But now the game has evolved into something even more elusive, like some online version of the emperor’s new clothes since nobody ever says anything. Because all you ever hear these days is that if you really want to be successful with your music career, or any other creative business venture for that matter, all you have to do is get more socially connected!


So now that we’ve all been at it for a while, answer me this… are you on Myspark or Faceplant or Urube or Tweaker or Fumbler or Regurgitation Nation, or are ya’ selling on iPlumes or Prankora or Spot-a-fly or any of the other new ones you’re probably missing out on…Or maybe you should just start up a KicksHarder campaign…Oh, and by the way, how many friends ya’ got? Or likes do you have? Or are you trending lately? Or have you gone viral yet?  And if not, that’s why nothing’s happening for ya’ friend, what do you expect?


Well, nothing, since that’s what I’ve learned to expect after playing this game for the last decade. Because let’s be honest, we all know its bullshit for the most part. No matter what business you’re in, really. Ok, it does help a little.


But what we all learn sooner or later is that the real common denominator for any artist to become successful is the same as it was before the internet made us think we could get around it, which is to have the capital and working relationships behind you to really get the word out. Then you go on Faceplant and all the rest, and…voila, it actually does work!


And just to clear up any confusion. For anyone who still buys into the term “indie band” or “indie artist” as meaning any artist, or group of artists, who have become successful completely on their own - I hate to break it to you, but they didn’t. Because the truth is, if they had done it all on their own, you never would have heard of them.


Case in point: Have you ever heard of the indie rock band, Broken Poets? They’re great, I think. They’ve been around for the last twelve years, too. I know. And in that time they’ve produced and promoted four full length records and three EPs completely on their own. They’ve also played a countless number of gigs, big and small, all over the East and West coasts. Well, that’s what I would consider a real indie band, wouldn’t you? But here’s why I know you’ve never heard of them; because they’ve never had the support of a major label, plain and simple. And it’s not for lack of trying either, because I know they’ve tried.


 Ok, it’s my band.


But this is not to say I think the few big record labels left out there are evil because they never signed us. Or that any of the “indie labels” that are usually always affiliated somehow with these bigger labels are bad either. In fact, the way I look at it, if it weren’t for record labels in general I would have never heard the music that inspired me to become a musician in the first place. It’s a system that works, so I get it.    


But here’s the clincher. There are many independently run bands and artists still out here - you might call us the unknown indie artists. We’re the ones who just never fit into the framework of what these labels considered to be marketable - which is what the term “indie music” actually meant at first; as a way to describe all the artists and bands that were doing it on their own during those first waves of the internet.


But since just the idea of a self sufficient artist via the web was a threat to the industry, the major labels made a brilliant move obviously. They simply got behind the bands they knew they could market, continued to call it “indie music” and packaged it for the masses; which is how the word “indie” became more associated with a certain lo-fi sound and appearance, rather than as an artist’s preference to remain independent. A very well financed and connected lo-fi sound and appearance, I might add.


Again, nothing against record labels or even the artists they represent. Because as much as we all wish it was just about the music, the process of getting it out there always comes down to the business side whether we like it or not. And that’s why I can’t even blame those first few independently successful bands for teaming up with the status quo so fast. It was just a business decision that made sense I would imagine. And, ok, I’m just jealous I wasn’t one of them.


But just remember the next time you hear that term indie music thrown around so easily, that a lot of us original misfits are still out here. Still producing and promoting our own work under the radar. Because we’re the ones with the scaled down versions of the labels I mentioned above, labels that work just as hard to put out good music year after year, but on a miniscule budget in comparison. Just imagine a label where the art vs. commerce debate gets resolved by default every time.


And just speaking for myself, I’ve been producing my own work and doing things my own way for so long now, I plan to keep it this way. And, yes, even if that day comes when I finally make enough money to be considered by a label as marketable - well, it would just be a matter of unknown indie principle at that point.


Written by Tim McDonald

Monday, September 30, 2013


J.R. Rain is an ex-private investigator, who now writes full-time while living on a small island in the Pacific Northwest with his dog, Sadie.  Doesn't every writer want to live on a small island writing for a living with your dog sleeping on your feet?

Well, here's where J.R. differs from the rest of the publishing world.  When I say he writes full-time, I really mean it.  While in college he wrote two books and over 80 short stories.  Currently he's ranked #11 on Amazon's author rating for the extremely popular Fantasy genre.  There's no question he's one of the most prolific writers on the planet with 18 books being released in 2013 alone.  Oh, and he's sold over 2 million e-books so far. Understandably, it took some time for him to respond to my interview request, but when he finally did, he was extremely warm and engaging, and obviously spent some valuable time putting together his answers.  Thanks J.R.

1- You’ve had an agent and have worked with some very influential people in your career, what made you decide to publish your work as an Indie author—and have you been tempted to go the traditional route?

Hi Gary! And great question. Early in my career I did all that I could think of to connect with major publishers...even starting my own literary agency! I had a few close calls, and three different times I thought I would, in fact, be working with major publishers. But all the deals fell through, and I spiraled into depression and drinking and exotic drugs. Okay, that’s not quite true. I’ve never done a single drug, and I rarely drink. Although I like to binge eat! What happened, Gary, was that I started accumulating all of these unpublished manuscripts, although I did publish two novels with two very small publishers, but the money just wasn’t there and I had to rethink, well, everything. I had just decided to start my own publishing company (I’m a stubborn cuss), when Amazon Kindle opened their doors to authors. And, shortly after that, I coined the term “Indie author”. Okay, I didn’t coin it, haha, but someone did! And  I love it and use it often. Yes, I have been tempted to go the traditional route. A Big Five publisher offered me a lot of money for my Samantha Moon series but I told them no. I was literally sick to my stomach at the thought of giving it up to someone else. Instead, I went with BenBella, a wonderful mid-sized publisher who now distributes just the paperbacks to bookstores far and wide, while I keep the ebook rights. Win, win. Oh, and I’ve recently sold two standalone mystery novels to Thomas & Mercer...The Body Departed and Silent Echo.

2- Tell us how you developed the Samantha Moon character, and I’m sure I’m speaking for most male authors when I ask—what’s it like getting into the head of a female protagonist?

Oh, man...great question! I was dating a Federal Agent in 2003 and was just floored by how gutsy and tough and imperturbable she was. Oh, and she was only 5’ 3”, and carried a gun, and could kick most men’s asses. So, she was the starting point for Sam. Next, my sister and author, Elaine Babich, got the nod. I based Sam’s family life and home and actual residence around my sister. But before all of that, the original idea for Samantha Moon came from watching a different Samantha...yes, the TV show Betwitched. It was one of those episodes in which the nosy neighbor across the street was absolutely certain that something was very off about her neighbor. Well, something was very off. Sam was a witch--hell, her whole family was witches. And yet the world at large mostly didn’t know. Meaning, they were able to assimilate into the neighborhood and look normal. So I asked myself in 2003, how would a vampire assimilate into a neighborhood, have a mariage and family, and appear to be normal. Yes, this was before the big vampire boom. Moon Dance nearly sold to a big publisher way back when. I’m glad it didn’t. I’m glad I can keep writing these stories on my terms. I love slipping inside a woman’s thoughts. It’s a fun challenge. How do I do it? Haven’t a clue...I just become Samantha. Make sense? No? Sigh....

3- To say the least you’ve led a very interesting life with wildly high successes and some really low collapses, yet you’ve seemed to overcome tremendous obstacles to become one of the most popular Indie authors on the planet.  What is your life like right now?

Ha! Well, I’m certainly the most popular indie author in my own house. Which is to say, I live alone haha. So, yeah, I’m a bit of a loner. Haven’t been married in 10 years, and have no plans to do so. Yes, I’m single...but not quite ready to mingle haha. I prefer to do the mingling with my characters. I’ve lived too long struggling and frustrated with the whole publishing process. That frustration is gone, and for that I’m eternally thankful for those who have helped me. Most days you will find me writing 1000 words a day, or editing, or helping my writing friends, or at coffee shops, or walking my dog. A simple life.

4- Okay, so you’re obviously a very talented writer and no question extremely prolific, but you’re releasing an incredible 18 novels in 2013—exactly how long does it take you to write a novel from beginning to end?

Okay, I think you got that information on a Facebook post from a few months ago...let me count the novels I have published in 2013 so that we can nail the number down. Okay, done counting...looks like it’s going to be 18 novels...wait, what did you say? 18? Then, yeah, wow...I’m a freak! It was going to be more, but I decided to back out as co-author on some books, and act only as a publisher. In fact, I finally did start my own publishing company J.R. Rain Press. We will be publishing 13 books this year, many of which are based on my original ideas, although some I’m truly buying and acting as a publisher. To answer your question, it takes me two months to write a full novel. Bear in mind, my novels are between 40K - 50K words. I keep them short and fast. Why? I have a chronically short attention span. I need to keep these books short and fast to entertain me. I used to do novels in about 6 weeks...but now I’ve cut my workload in half. 1000 words a day, with Sundays off. I used to do 2000 words a day, every day, like clockwork. Also, I take off two weeks between novels. Still, I do have free time in the evenings, and often spend that time co-authoring books with other writers.

5- Can you give us a sneak preview of what your readers can expect to see this coming year?  Any new characters you’d like to introduce?

I re-introduced Allison Lopez, who first appeared in Vampire Games, and has had a supporting a role in each subsequent Vampire for Hire novel. She now has her own series, “The Witches Series.” Yes, she is a psychic and a witch. Turns out Sam was, too, in a past life. I’m writing a new young adult novel with Piers Anthony, called Dolfin Tayle, which will be out shortly. Other than that, I’m bringing out the latest Jim Knighthorse novel, which I will begin writing tomorrow, September 2nd! You see, I take Sundays off...well, doing interviews doesn’t count!

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Theresa Ragan is the epitome of the rags to riches story.  After struggling as a writer for 20 years she decided to self-publish her first book with Amazon back in 2011 and went on to sell over a half a million copies in less than two years.  She finally signed a publishing contract with Thomas and Mercer in 2012 and has gone on to become a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author.  She's an inspiration to every writer who dreams of that type of breakthrough success and was kind enough to take a few minutes out of her busy schedule to play 5 questions with me.
1-   You began your career writing romance.  Tell us the difference between that and writing thrillers?

For me, a great book equals great characters. Make me care about the characters and I’ll follow them anywhere. Whether I’m writing a romance or a thriller, the characters are the most important element. With that said, there are big differences when it comes to writing a romance vs. a thriller.
When I write romance, my focus is on the internal conflict—how can the professor deal with his love for his student? How will my heroine explain to the new man in her life that her father is the one responsible for ruining his company?
When I write a thriller, my focus turns to the external conflict—who is causing the chaos in my story and why? How is my protagonist going to find the killer? She has little time for self-doubt and internal monologue if she plans to find the killer before he finds her.
2-   Understandably you use T.R. Ragan for your Lizzy Gardner series.  Do you ever hear from readers who like your romance novels, but don't like the Lizzy Gardner books simply because they don't like thrillers?
I plan to use T.R. Ragan for all of my thrillers, not just the Lizzy Gardner series. I use Theresa Ragan for everything else. Readers are smart. They figured out the difference between the pen names all by themselves and nobody has complained.
3-   Do you have a preference of genre, or do you like to switch it up?
After writing for twenty years, and more than a dozen novels later, I wrote my first thriller out of pure frustration with the industry. I had finaled six times in RWA’s Golden Heart, signed with two agents, and worked with a couple of NY editors, but nobody wanted to give me a chance. It was time to kill off a few characters. Even before my Lizzy Gardner series took off, I knew I had found my niche. I love writing thrillers and that’s what I plan to write for the next few years.
4-   You've had unbelievable success as an Indie author.  How did your relationship with Thomas and Mercer develop, and have they raised your profile more than you could have done on your own?
Although I sold thousands of romance novels prior to releasing my first thriller, Abducted, I was approached by two NY publishers and Thomas & Mercer after Abducted hit #5 for a second time. Abducted had never been submitted to any publishing house prior to being released as a self-published book. I went with T&M because, in my opinion, they are king when it comes to ebooks, innovation, and thinking outside of the box. I think we make a good team. And, yes, I believe they have helped me find readers that I wouldn’t have been able to reach on my own. Thomas & Mercer did that with email blasts, kindle daily deals, and by mentioning my name in their newsletter and Jeff Bezo’s letter to shareholders—and that’s just a few things they have done to promote me and my books.
5-   What is the publishing world going to look like in 5 years?  The Big 3 and a bunch of small boutique houses?
Gosh. Who knows? More and more authors are starting their own publishing houses. They are offering great covers, editing and decent royalties. The changes we’ve seen in publishing have only just begun! Great copyediting and developmental editors will be easier to find--maybe with a mere click of a button. Another click of a button will make it possible for writers to get their books translated in other languages. The only thing that will not change and the only thing that matters, though, is great storytelling. That’s what readers care about. That’s what reader’s want and that’s the only thing writers need to worry about--writing a great book!

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Over the past couple of years I've been fortunate enough to interview some of the most influential writers in the publishing world.  During our interview I asked each author their opinion of what the future of publishing would look like in 5 years.  I thought it would be interesting to look back and see what these industry giants thought of the tumultuous publishing landscape.

Hugh Howey

 Five years normally isn't all that long, is it? But I think you've nailed how quickly this industry is changing. Look at what Napster and iTunes did to the music industry. Or what digital cameras have done to film. E-books are showing phenomenal growth. We're talking triple-digit increases year on year while physical books see double-digit decreases. The trends point one direction. As someone who worked in an independent bookstore for the past two years, I've been watching this unfold from the retail as well as the production side.

I think the biggest change will come from the success of the indie writer, to be honest. And I don't say this because of what I'm experiencing. Rather, it's because of the dozens and dozens of friends I've met online who are having success with writing and publishing on their own. People are quitting their day jobs because their e-book sales are able to support them. They are now free to concentrate on their craft, supported by the small purchases of thousands of people around the world, all of whom have access to more choice in reading material than ever before.

As publishers see their market diminish, and I believe they already are, I think they are going to become open to working with authors in a more equitable fashion. E-book royalty rates have to change. They simply have to. The publisher offers almost nothing and in exchange they want almost everything. In five years, we'll hear about more and more authors signing physical print deals with major publishers while they retain e-book rights. That may not sound like much (since it's so logical and fair) but it will signal a monumental shift in how business is done.

Another change we may see, though I think this is ten or fifteen years away, is the end of stocking all titles on shelves, which has meant shipping books back and forth between printer and retailer and then back again for remaindering or pulping. It's a wasteful system. We have the technology now to simply print the book the reader wants in under five minutes, while they wait. I'd love to see more bookstores that highlight the social and community aspects of reading. A place to come and discuss books, to find out what's being written, to meet local authors and attend book signings. Bookstores are already becoming coffee shops that sell board games and children's toys. That trend will continue until they mostly carry bargain books and bestsellers, and everything else is printed behind a counter while you sip on a latte.

What won't change is the supply of books worth reading and people eager for each and every one of them. We have thirsted for stories since we received them around campfires. The method of delivery is not the thing. It's allowing another's words to stir our imaginations. And so we should concentrate on this and care less about the manner in which it happens.

John Locke

I’m a 100% believer in the electronic book medium. It offers more than a level playing field for self-published authors—it gives us a game that is actually stacked in our favor! Readers are just starting to learn that ebooks can be created and sold at a profit for 99 cents. And this is going to make them re-think their buying options, and their attitudes toward value. If you and I can electronically publish a book for 99 cents and still make a profit, and the giants in the business like James Patterson, John Grisham, Stephen King and Dean Koontz have to charge $9.95 for their ebooks, the onus is no longer on Gary Ponzo and John Locke to prove our books are just as good as theirs. It’s on them to prove their books are TEN TIMES better than ours! And Gary, in a game like that, I like our chances!


Tess Gerritsen

In the future, an author won't necessarily have to go through a publisher to have his books available. He can e-publish his work, sell it directly to the reader, and take a larger percentage of the profits. The author who already has a following may actually earn more money this way, than through traditional publishing. However, the unknown author will still find it advantageous to build his name recognition the old-fashioned way. The real challenge for all of us is cultivating new readers, in any format.


Janet Evanovich

Good question. I don't have a crystal ball, but I'd say that e-books are going to continue to grow and become a big factor in publishing. Maybe I'm a Pollyanna, but I don't think traditional books will disappear. While a number of my readers come to my book signings and ask me to sign their e-reader covers, most folks who wait patiently in line say they love paper and ink and don't have plans to convert anytime soon.


J. Carson Black


I’m not very good at that, but I’ll try. I think Amazon is going to dominate publishing for the next three to five years. They are out to bigfoot everybody else, and I’d rather be with them than against them.

This has been a wonderful time for authors, because so many good writers are finally getting a chance to sell directly to readers. I don’t know how long this will last, but it is a Golden Age of sorts. More and more midlist authors who found it impossible to build a career with the New York publishers are coming over to ebooks. And there are talented newcomers who couldn’t sell to New York, but really have the goods.

I don’t know how long this particular phase will last. It might be like the Gold Rush of the nineteenth century. The first adopters may be the ones who do the best. There will be changes—some big, some small---and it’s hard to tell where we’ll be five years from now. But I can’t help but think that Amazon will be running the show.


Rick Murcer

Whew! Publishing in the next five years, huh? I'll draw on my business background and simply say that things will never be the same for traditional, or Indies, ever again. I don't think HC or paperback books will ever disappear, but the Big Six will have to figure out how to compete with the proliferation of e-books, and also the pricing. I read once where it takes five miles to turn a cruise ship around, meaning changing direction for something so large takes time and space. Traditional publishing may have to move faster than that. I also believe you'll see more and more offers to Indies for traditional contracts, and many will live in both worlds. New publishers like Thomas and Mercer and their bold new contract system will become the norm and authors will finally get the majority of profits for their work, instead of 15-17%. I've never hammered the traditional system, but evolution is inevitable and they need to get there.

When I first got into the business, someone, another author, told me that if the book is good, readers will find you, if not, maybe you should consider doing something else. I'm mentioning that to say that time is a great equalizer and I actually believe the number of Indies will decrease.

I do believe the public IS the ultimate gatekeeper in this new order and they will answer the questions of quality and readability. Some authors will become discouraged, and I believe, at some point, Amazon, B&N, and others could create some kind of criteria for publishing on their sites. That's just my opinion, however.


Michael Palmer

I am a professional at staying in the moment, not projecting, and controlling only those things I can control. It looks like the electronic age will have more people reading, but less of them reading paper books. My job is to keep writing good stories so long as I can earn a living doing it.


Blake Crouch

The massive amount of instant-gratification god-awful writing being uploaded on a daily basis. Just take a look at the Smashwords homepage and you'll get a taste of what's being uploaded every hour. It's horribly depressing, and I just hope the market doesn't become so inundated with this sewage as to make it impossiblefor people to find the good stuff.



Thursday, July 25, 2013


If you like reading thrillers, this is the spot for you.  I'll be giving away 10 signed copies of my first Nick Bracco thriller, A Touch of Deceit, plus a grand prize of $100.00 Amazon Gift Card!

And here are your Winners: Barbara Stull, Joseph Hawkshaw, Ginger Hinson, Bonnie Hometchko, Brandy Blackerby-Thorton, Stacey Price, Katie Wrolsen, Alan Tucker, Crystal Craig, Janice Hougland.  And the Grand Prize Winner of a $100.00 Amazon Gift Card is Ron Francis!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and supported the event.  Stay tuned on this blog for more giveaways.
Over ninety-thousand readers have purchased the Nick Bracco series where FBI agent Nick Bracco recruits his Mafia connected cousin, Tommy, to help him track down terrorists.  It's been discussed as a series for the USA Network and has just been published by Podium Publishing as an audiobook.

Please feel free to hop around to the different author's blogs.  Here's the link back to the Summer Splash Blog and choose another author's blog to visit. Learn how to become eligible to win a Kindle Fire!

Also, for thriller readers only, the first 5 people who Like my Facebook Author page here will receive a Nick Bracco T-shirt and a free signed copy of A Touch of Deceit.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


First there was print.  Then there was digital E-Readers.  Now 2013 seems to be the breakout year for the audiobook.  The popularity of MP3 players has turned this form of literature into a new venue for writers to get their voice heard.  Audiobooks are the fastest growing segment of the publishing industry.  There was a time when people would buy CD books and listen to them on long road trips.  Now, the iPod has turned this entire industry into a launching pad for a new stream of books to be heard.  People are tuning in to digital downloads while jogging, driving to work, or doing chores around the house.
Surprisingly I'm hearing from readers who've already read my first Nick Bracco thriller that they downloaded the very same book in the audio version because they wanted to hear it instead of reading it.  Almost as if they've read the book and now they want to see the movie.  Maybe the accent of the narrator, or the phrasing of certain words can make the experience seem like a completely new book.  Like seeing the same play twice and noticing a different cadence to the dialogue the second time.  Maybe it was more sardonic.  Maybe more humorous.  Either way, there's a new trend happening out there and there's no denying it will grow stronger.  Critics argue that listening to a narrated book isn't the same as reading, but I say listening to a narrated book is better than most activities that don't include listening to the written/spoken word.  After all, back in the day, that's how most fiction got its start.  The spoken word.  So it's come full circle and I couldn't be more excited about it.

Audiophiles rejoice.  Listen to the new Imagine Dragons record on your iPod, then switch over and have a good narrator turn your mind into a movie theatre and watch the movie inside your brain.
If you're a writer and interested in knowing what a professional narrator can do with you words, just listen to what R.C. Bray did with my first book, A Touch of Deceit:

Saturday, June 8, 2013


Born in western Australia, author Chris Allen went on to join the Australian Army and become an elite paratrooper.  It was no doubt these experiences along with the three different law enforcement agencies which gave him the tools to build such great thrillers.  Both his books, Defender and Hunter have climbed up the charts on Amazon and made him one of the hottest new thriller authors out there.  He was kind enough to spend a few minutes to discuss his career and his thoughts on the future of publishing.

1- With all of your military training and law enforcement skills, are there scenes or themes in your thrillers which are a direct result of your experiences?

Sure are. There will be the occasional specific scene in the stories, for instance there’s a parachute scene in Defender that immediately comes to mind, but mostly there will be themes throughout the books that I draw on directly from my experience to create in the stories. In fact, the whole point of Intrepid is based on my views about having a more international focus and increased collaboration to bring nations together. We tend to focus a lot in popular culture on what individual countries and their agencies are doing – CIA, MI6, the Mossad and so on. I’m a bit tired of that and wanted something new!
In addition to scenes and themes, I draw on different aspects of my personal experience to create Alex Morgan’s attitudes and outlook on life and to an equal extent on the patriarch of Intrepid, General Davenport. There are many habits and idiosyncrasies and points of view within Davenport that are directly mine. But it is up to the reader to decode those characters as they wish.

2- You have obvious writing chops.  Where did you develop your talent for writing with such a strong command of using all the senses?
I’ve never actually undertaken a writing course. I tend to write the way I speak and I’ve been told that I have a very experiential tendency in the way that I tell stories. So as things occur to me, they appear on the page. Reading back over my work, I try to focus on keeping pace and ensuring the interest level of the reader is maintained. I also try to bring out the characters experiences as they are occurring in real time as much as possible – in all the scenes, but especially keeping the action scenes realistic. That said, it took ten years to pen the various iterations and self-publish my first book, Defender, and six months to get through Hunter on deadline with a publisher, so those two vastly different experiences are what I refer to as my writing apprenticeship!

3-Alex Morgan is not your prototypical protagonist.  What makes him different from other government agents?
First and foremost, Alex Morgan serves the world community. He and his compadres are international in every way, and that’s really important to me. Secondly, Morgan is not an assassin. That is not the role of Intrepid or the ethos of what General Davenport imbues. I read a review of one of my books recently where a reader felt that I should have killed off a baddie during a conversation. That’s not the way my stories work and it’s not what I want for my characters. If it was, they’d just be like every other action hero. I like to take the view that real life is a lot more complex and the simple solution to just shoot someone is more of a Hollywood affectation than reality.

4- Where did you come up with the idea for the Sword of Interpol?  And does this give you license to achieve a certain level of subterfuge that other agencies couldn't offer?
I really like this question. When I came up with the idea for Intrepid, I felt that Interpol was the perfect environment for it to belong to, because of the international relationship that exists between the member nations of Interpol. In terms of the Sword of Interpol, it is quite literally a play on Intrepid being the sharp end of what in reality is an intelligence co-operative. Being that sharp end, it fits nicely with the Interpol badge, which features the sword balancing the scales of justice. In relation to the subterfuge, given that Intrepid does not act in a single nation’s interest, then there is inherently international co-operation that facilitates Intrepid agents undertaking their covert missions with a great deal of behind-the-scenes support minus the petty jurisdictional distractions that usually abound in these kinds of stories. It means my agents can just get on with their missions and I think that’s pretty cool.

5- Where do you see the future of publishing heading and how will you fit into that paradigm?
At the moment I’m straddling the traditional /digital publishing divide, having started my journey hanging onto the coat-tails of the self-publishing revolution back in 2010. I’ve discovered some really cool things about the digital and social age – such as, by experimenting with what is called an ‘author platform’, building personal relationships with my readers, and working to create a cohesive look for my author brand – from books to online, media, events and beyond!

I know where my future lies – creating a full series of Alex Morgan thrillers as well as a separate Crime series that is in production, realising my aspirations for publication and circulation of the Intrepid series, building a strong team to partner with, and working through to when I can see Intrepid on the big and small screens! How the future of publishing will fit into that, I’m not sure, other than to say we’re game to take it all on and give any emerging trends a red hot go.

Friday, May 24, 2013


Big announcement: A Touch of Deceit, the Audio Book is now available on The extremely popular R.C. Bray has done a fantastic job narrating the thriller. Since the first couple of weeks of sales are so important to its success, I will be offering a free autographed copy of the paperback version of the book ($11.47) to anyone who purchases the audio version of the book ($9.79) from
That's right, you'll receive $11.47 worth of value for just $9.79. I'm working on the honor system so just email me your address at once you've purchased the Audio Book and I'll mail you the paperback version. Maybe you have a friend or relative who might like the series but doesn't have an E-Reader? A Touch of Deceit makes a great gift.

Check out a sample, Here’s the link to the Audio Book:

Friday, May 3, 2013


Let's face it, Indie writers have completely ruined the pool for all the other real authors to get properly paid for their work.  If it weren't for Indie's, readers would be paying $9.95 for every ebook no matter the title and people like Dan Brown wouldn't be forced to give away copies of the digital version of "The Da Vinci Code" for free.  Those bastards.
Mary Shelley's book was rejected by dozens of publishers.
Digital publishing has sure effected the publishing world and Indies have used the one element they have to promote their work against the stalwart names in the industry.  Lower prices.  There was a time when Indies were the slutty sorority girl who showed up at a formal dinner to whispers of, "Who invited her?"  Things have changed for sure, but is this new craze going away?  Probably not. 

Now, has the market been flooded by some marginal manuscripts which were thrown up on Amazon or B&N just because someone can do it?  Sure.  But if someone writes a good story, they'll receive the appropriate reviews.  And if someone doesn't . . . well, the opposite will happen.  I've never begrudged a traditionally published author for becoming successful the old-fashioned way.  As a matter of fact seventy-five percent of the books I read are traditionally published and I've interviewed many of them on this blog.  People like Tess Gerritsen and Janet Evanovich and Catherine Coulter just to name a few.  And they've been gracious and down-to-earth writers.  And I root for them to succeed.

But the publishing world is changing and we all need to adapt.  At least this is what my typewriter repairman tells me.  Especially now when so many traditionally published authors are deciding to publish independently as a choice.  It's hard to tell anymore whether someone is publishing a book by themselves because they want to or because they have to.
Don't forget, J.K. Rowling was rejected by twelve publishers before an eight-year-old daughter of a Bloomsbury editor insisted he read the entire book.  Louis L'Amour received 200 rejections before Bantam took a chance on him. Nowadays these authors could've published on their own and would've been Indie sensations.  Why?  Because they wrote good books and would've received good reviews and would've gone on to become very successful writers.

Are Indie's ruining the publishing world?  Doubtful.  Stay tuned, however, because the landscape is changing and opinions stated today may prove very archaic just months from now.  Which reminds me,  my blacksmith has been warning me about these mechanical horses which seem to be gaining in popularity.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Lee Goldberg's literary credits are way too numerous to list, but you can check out his Wikipedia page here.  He's an author, screenwriter and producer of over a hundred books, TV shows and/or movies.  And that figure may be low.  One of his many accomplishments is writing a popular series of novels based on the TV show Monk, which he also wrote for.

I found him to be very engaging and extremely thoughtful with his answers.  Thanks, Lee, for spending a few moments to play 5 questions with me.

  1. Tell us the difference between writing for a TV show and writing a novel.

They are entirely different experiences. Television is very much a group effort and what you are writing is a blueprint that lots of other people are going to use as the basis for their creative work, whether it’s the actor, the director, the production designer. And when you write a script it’s not locked in stone. It’s going to change. It’s going to change because everybody has notes. It’s going to change because production concerns force rewrites. It’s going to change because of actors and directors. It’s in fluid motion all the time.

A book is entirely my own and unaffected by production concerns or actors. I’m the actors, the director, the production designer… it’s entirely mine. It’s not a blueprint. It is the finished product and it won’t change much once I am done with it.  It’s not a group effort -- I plot it myself and I write it by myself. It’s entirely in my head and I live it for months.

Creatively speaking, there’s a big difference between writing prose and writing a script. In a book, you are seducing the reader. You are bringing them into your imagination and holding them there for as long as they’re reading the book. You construct everything. You construct the sets, the wardrobe, the world. You’re God. You can even read a character’s thoughts. In a script, everything that happens and everything the characters do has to be revealed through action and dialogue.

In a script, you could introduce a scene like this:


It’s a cheap Chinese restaurant with very few customers. There’s an aquarium with live lobsters, fish, etc. in the window. Monk is disgusted by what he sees...

But in a book, you have to describe the restaurant in detail. You have to tell us everything that’s going on. You have to set the scene for the reader. It’s an entirely different skill. That’s why some novelists are terrible screen writers and why some screen writers can’t write a book. They can’t jump back and forth.

The only thing that TV and books have in common is that both are mediums for sharing books, you tell stories, in TV you show them. That simple distinction is a difficult one for many writers to overcome when moving into one field from the other.

2- You've written such a variety of genres, do some of your readers get frustrated when they follow your work and read outside their realm of familiarity?

Not that I am aware of.

3- Update your publishing status right now.  Do you have traditional publishing deals and publish as an Indie as well? And do you approach the act of writing differently depending on the route you take?

No, I take exactly the same approach regardless of who is publishing my books. I simply write the best book that I can. I don’t worry about who is going to publish it – whether it will by me, one of Amazon’s imprints, or one of the Big Six. I’ve had great success self-publishing my out-of-print backlist, selling over 100,000 copies in the last two years, and just released a new novella, “Fast Track.” My crime novel “King City,” the first in a new series, was published last May by Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer imprint, and my on-going, bi-monthly “Dead Man” series is published by Amazon’s 47North imprint (in fact, my novel “The Dead Man #1: Face of Evil” was 47North’s very first title!).  William Rabkin and I co-created the “Dead Man” series and recruit novelists we know, or love to read, to write the books. Our authors include Christa Faust, Joel Goldman, “Star Trek” writer/producer Lisa Klink, Bill Crider, Aric Davis, Mel Odom, Anthony Neil Smith, and Emmy-award winning writer-producer Phoef Sutton (“Cheers,” “Boston Legal,” etc.) We’re up to 18 “Dead Man” books  so far with more coming. I’m also very much in bed with so-called traditional publishing. “Fox and O’Hare,” the new series I am co-writing with Janet Evanovich, premieres June 18th with the publication of “The Heist” from Random House. And, of course, my 15 “Monk” novels remain in print with Penguin/Putnam. I think it’s a big mistake for writers to limit themselves by being strictly “indie” or “big six.” I’m a writer first-and-foremost. I have written for big publishers and little publishers, movie studios and small production companies, major television networks and cable channels. Ultimately,  for me it just comes down to telling great stories, regardless of the medium or the distribution channel.

4-One of your latest projects is a short film titled, "Bumsicle," which has been invited to quite a few film festivals and has actually been nominated for awards.  It's extremely difficult to get into some of these prominent festivals.  Tell us about the film and your involvement?

“Bumsicle” is based on a short-story of mine that was published some years back Michael Bracken’s anthology “Fedora III.” It’s about a small-town detective investigating the death of a homeless woman who froze in a park. It’s a sequel of sorts to “Remaindered,” a short film I wrote & directed for Riverpark Center in Owensboro, Kentucky as part of their International Mystery Writers Festival. They approached me about making a short film as a teaching exercise for film students in several of their local colleges and universities. Riverpark and the schools would pay for everything, the only catch was that I had to use all local talent in front of, and behind, the camera and treat the set as a classroom. I jumped at the opportunity. Shooting “Remaindered” was a fantastic experience and the short film ended up screening in festivals all across the country. We had so much success with “Remaindered” that Riverpark asked me to do it again, which is how “Bumsicle” came about. What’s great is that the city and people of Owensboro really get behind the films, donating their time, energy and resources. Making the movies was great fun. The fact that we are getting some acclaim and attention for them is an added delight.  I hope we’ll do another one before the year is over.

5- You're scheduled to write a series of books with Janet Evanovich.  How did that come about, and how will you two work together?  One chapter per person, or will it be more integrated?  

Janet and I have been good friends for many years. In fact, we’re both surprised that it didn’t occur to us long ago to write a book together! We have a very similar sense of humor. Once we came up with an idea for the book, things moved very fast. Random House snapped it up and we wrote the “The Heist,” in less than six months (it helps when there are two of you at the keyboard!). We are now deep into writing book #2. We plot together, trade drafts back and forth as we’re writing, and talk frequently throughout the process. We also get together at her place in Florida.