Author interview with Max E. Stone

Author Max E. Stone has just released an exciting thriller, One Minute There, book 3 of his William/Bennett/Johnson New England  series.

10734062_752587974796310_1119253381604448574_n

 

RUN…

Two torturous months came and went

Detective Bennett refuses to give up on finding his daughter

Even as the authorities of New England and beyond, trailing the blood in the girl’s wake, devised a ruthless manhunt to bring her back

Well aware of the young woman’s fragile state, Bennett is determined to locate her first

And terrified to learn that he and the officers aren’t the only ones looking…

FOR YOUR LIFE…

Tucked in a hideaway past America’s borders, courtesy of her only trusted connect as of late, Melissa is sure she’s safe.
That is until the hammering knocks at her door threaten her world, her sanity…

And her life.

THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY OUT…

Max answered a few of my questions about his writing life.

How do you choose your setting?

The setting comes from the places I visit and eventually fall in love with. New England, which happened to be the origin for the Warren-Bennett-Johnson series, was one of those places. If I go to a city or a country and love it, I work it into the story.

What does the setting contribute to the suspense?

Once I select the setting, I look at the places that I have physically explored and then see if I can add my own brand of suspense to them. Sometimes, I will ask others who live in the location about the history of certain landmarks as well. Other times, I do the research on my own and create the suspense.

Do you do site-specific research?

Depending on the story, yes. If I like a certain landmark for my story, I research it more and then talk to others who live there to get an accurate feel of the place.

Detailed planner?

After I figure out what the story is going to be about, I just write whatever comes to mind and then plan out the chapters as I go along.

Do you pull details of setting or characterization from your own life or your imagination?
I try to add both my imagination and real life details to any setting I use, giving the fiction that added bonus of realism. As far as characterization, I definitely use elements of me. That’s how I make my characters into people that my readers can see themselves in or identify with in some way.

Thanks so much, Max, and best of luck with One Minute There.

You can find copies of One Minute There by following the links.

 

Max E. Stone

New book: The Child on the Terrace

At last, the advance reading copies of The Child on the Terrace are available, in print for now, at Amazon.com and writewordsinc.com. Comments, reviews welcome.
Winters_Child_RT_jpgSM

 

 

 

Anne McPhail, retired pediatrician, shattered by her experience in Bermuda, rents a tiny house in Setenil, Spain, hoping to reconcile what she learned about herself and Thomas after the gunfire in that dark room on the island.

But she sees a child on the terrace of the local cafe who doesn’t seem to belong to her minders and then Ari, the Mossad agent who saved Anne’s life, seeks her out with a plan to rescue the child from kidnappers. Should she trust him? Three days later, she is on the run with Ari and the little girl, with killers Esti and Sergio on their trail. She glimpses a man she thinks is Thomas. Is he, too in Spain?

And why? How far will Anne go to save Naomi?

From Spain to France to Italy, this is Anne’s most dangerous journey.

 

Watch on Thursday for my interview with author Max. E. Stone about his new book, One Minute There.

 

16 ways to market a novel.

A beautiful Sunday morning here in Southern Ontario, cold but with a robins-egg blue sky and a touch of fresh snow, patterned with long shadows by the rising sun.

The work for this winter is two-fold: marketing The Child on the Terrace and rewriting Saving Fillide. Last week I reviewed a critique of the first twenty pages of Saving Fillide by an editor, Lindsay Guzzardo, of The Editorial Company. Included in her recommendations was advice that I read Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King, which I had some years ago and Syd Field’s Screenplay, The Foundations of Screenwriting.

Screenwriting? No, I’m not writing a movie or television script, but Field’s book is an excellent source of advice about plotting.

Marketing. Marketing wasn’t a part of the writing career that I gave much thought to in 1998 when I scribbled the beginning of Murderous Roots but since then I’ve spent many hours thinking about it, designing web sites and book launch pages, researching promotional sites and twitter services. The list of people who would be happy to take money for alerting the world of the internet to a new book is endless. A list of sites I’ve looked at and think worthwhile to consider include:

1. Enchanted Book Promotions. This service provides everything from a one day book launch package to a full promotional service with blog tours of many lengths.

2. AskDavid. This tweeting service and book review site is inexpensive, easy to use and delivers.

3. BooksgoSocial Lawrence O’Bryan’s business includes promotion, book reviews, an author page and a very active Facebook page for authors to connect with other authors.

4. 1888PressRelease: Another paid service that I’ve used twice before. Packages vary in add-ons. You can pick which package has the most potential value for your writing business.

5. Booklaunch.io A site that allows you to design a book landing page with all the required elements, including video trailers and links to many online booksellers imbedded in the page. Click to see mine for No Motive for Murder.

Book review sites:

6. The Book Report Book review site on radio.

7. The New Kindle Book Review This site has a book contest as well as reviews.

8. Dealsharingaunt Book reviews, contests and giveaways.

Other Suggestions:

9. Authors you know. Ask for review.

10. Authors you have an introduction to. Can’t hurt to ask politely.

11. Local Media:

Newspapers, radio stations, television stations.

Other ways to market

12. The authors pages at Crime Writers of Canada, The Writers Union of Canada, Canadian Authors Association.

13. Email your friends.

14. Mailchimp: Mailchimp is a service which allows you to set up an email sign-up page, develop a marketing letter and send it off in a marketing campaign.

15. Email librarians in the neighbourhood that a new book is available.

16. Book contests: I’m looking at a number of contests and lists of contests to send The Child on the Terrace to this year.

US Book News

Epic’s  awards for e-books.

Ippys awards for books from independents, self-published, small presses.

Bath Novel Award

Exeter novel prize.

So that’s it so far. But the most important is word of mouth, so don’t forget Facebook, Goodreads, Wattpad, tell your friends, tell your aunt, tell your coworkers, tell the checkout girls at the grocery store. Take those speaking engagements, go to the book clubs. Blog. And sometime in there find time to work on the next book.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: A Siege of Bitterns

From Dundurn Press:

Inspector Domenic Jejeune’s success has made him a poster boy for the U.K. police service. The problem is Jejeune doesn’t really want to be a detective at all; he much prefers watching birds.

Recently reassigned to the small Norfolk town of Saltmarsh, located in the heart of Britain’s premier birding country, Jejeune’s two worlds collide when he investigates the grisly murder of a prominent ecological activist. His ambitious police superintendent foresees a blaze of welcome publicity, but she begins to have her doubts when Jejeune’s most promising theory involves a feud over birdwatching lists. A second murder only complicates matters.

To unravel this mystery, Jejeune must deal with unwelcome public acclaim, the mistrust of colleagues, and his own insecurities. In the case of the Saltmarsh birder murders, the victims may not be the only casuA Siege of Bitternsalties.

 

 

It took me a few chapters before I became interested in this book, although I enjoyed the bird lore and descriptions of the Norfolk marshes. His hero? Not so much. I felt as estranged as his sergeant from this taciturn man whose interior dialogue was the only clue to his personality. Sergeant Maik now, I felt comfortable and connected with almost at once.

However the complex plot and the layers of Jejeune’s character reeled me in and I was caught as thoroughly as by P. D. James.

Burrows isn’t up there with her yet, but I look forward to his next.

About the birding: Burrows includes lots of lore about birds in Norfolk, all interesting to me as one of my daily joys is watching the changing population at the backyard feeders. This watching is not birding which seems to involve sitting around in uncomfortable, cold shelters with powerful binoculars or haring off at the first tweet about the sighting of a rare bird to add to one’s life list. But it also includes environmental advocacy and attempts at protecting the habitat.

 

Book Review: Land of Careful Shadows

Book Review: Land of Careful Shadows, A Jimmy Vega Mystery

A few weeks ago, I posted an author interview with Suzanne Chazin, author of Land of Careful Shadows. Yesterday, I finished reading her compellingUnknown new novel, a mystery set in New York State, some of its characters a few of the undocumented millions of living in America.

Her protagonist, Jimmy Vega, a police detective uncoupled from his Latino roots by marriage, divorce, and the death of his beloved mother, investigates the apparent homicide of an anonymous woman pulled from a local river. Before the investigation reaches its sad conclusion, his life is shattered and the pieces coalesced into a new beginning.

Vega is complex, at times difficult and abrasive, at times soft and compassionate. Of the rest of the characters, I found Rodrigo, a Guatemalan suspected of the crime, to be the most interesting and sympathetic. The villain of the piece is not a person, but a culture that denies the people living within it.

Overall, the book is well-written and engrossing. I recommend it both as a mystery and as a window into the unfortunate and demoralizing world of the “illegal alien” in the United States.

Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood

My friend Barb suggested a book to me a couple of weeks ago, a mystery/suspense novel by Kerry Greenwood, an Australian writer.

Her character, a woman with the impossible name of the Honourable Phryne(fry-knee) Fisher, has moved back to her native Australia from England. Multiple deaths in WWI of the sons of one aristocratic family left her father an Earl and her with an English education and a fortune.

Cocaine Bluesis her first adventure.

From Wikipedia:

After the Honourable Phryne Fisher solves a country-house jewel robbery in record time, she is asked by Colonel and Mrs. Andrews to look into the matter of their daughter in Australia, who they fear may be being poisoned by her husband. Having grown bored with English social life, Phryne is happy to have an excuse to put off making decisions about her future for the next few months or so, and promptly relocates to Melbourne.

UnknownThe twenties were roaring in Australia too, if one had money and status. I love the description of Phryne’s clothes and car and jewellery. Greenwood recreates the world of the rich, bored and drugged-up in an adventure with a twist at the end.

Phryne loves beautiful young men and Greenwood doesn’t stint in detailing her heroine’s sexual adventures.

Phryne is engaging, clever, quick-witted and brave. I’ve read books 1 through 5 and recommend them all. The good news is there are twenty all together as well as another series to go.

Available at Amazon.com in paper and e-book.

 

3 Marketing Tools

I’ve been working this week on developing tools I’ll need to market The Child on the Terrace.

Booklaunch.io: This site offers the development of landing pages. So of course I asked: What is a landing page? Turns out it is a page dedicated to a new book, ready to embed on a website, blog, Facebook etc, with all the information needed to market. It’s easy, once the book is listed on Amazon, the booklaunch software grabs the information and the design process begins. Lots of customization all ready available, with more to come, I’m sure.

The Child on the Terrace doesn’t have an Amazon number or 10 digit ISBN as yet, so I used No Motive for Murder as the practice book. See the page at https://booklaunch.io/10202081974970941/nomotiveformurder

The aim is to make buying the book as easy as possible to someone who lands on the page from anywhere: this blog, my website, Facebook, Twitter etc.

Mailchimp Part of marketing is an email campaign and Mailchimp has thousands of users who send newsletters to their customers with information about their products along with other content the user may like.

For example, a newsletter may be simply an announcement of the release of a new book, along with content such as the first chapter or the cover art, or a short story featuring the characters of the book.

I’ve been developing a sign-up form as well as a campaign ready to send when The Child on the Terrace is released.

I’m having trouble integrating the form with my blog because it seems I may have to upgrade to get the features I want, including the sign-up form. The form is all ready to view and for sign-up on the Facebook page for Dangerous Journeys as well as on my Twitter feed @ginnywinters

Book Reviews: To generate book reviews I’ll send advance reading copies to those kind people who have reviewed my other books, contact websites such as The New Kindle Book Review and the Gumshoe Review, and perhaps ask other authors that I’ve met or corresponded with to review for me as well. Anyone interested in reviewing, please contact me by commenting below.

That’s about it for this Sunday in December. The rest of the day I’ll devote to wrapping presents, phoning distant relatives, and deciding what to make for brunch for my visiting family on Boxing Day.

Happy Christmas to all.

New Mystery Novel: Land of Careful Shadows

UnknownToday, I have a guest—mystery writer Suzanne Chazin’s new release, Land of Careful Shadows.

 

“Hits the heart, not just the pulse, with people you come to care about. First rate and highly recommended.”—LEE CHILD

 

 

 

A body is found in a reservoir fifty miles north of New York City. The victim is young, female and Hispanic. In her purse, the police find a photograph of a baby they believe is her daughter–a little girl they can’t identify. Or find. Where is the child? Is she still alive? And what is the meaning behind the disturbing note in the woman’s bag? “Go back to your country. You don’t belong here.”

Arriving at the scene is homicide detective Jimmy Vega, who spent the better part of his childhood in the area and still carries the scars. A Latino himself, Vega knows all too well how hard it can be for an outsider to fit into a close-knit place like Lake Holly. Even now, as a respected officer of the law, he has to watch his step in an investigation simmering with ethnic animosities and steeped in local gossip. Both challenged and intrigued by Adele Figueroa—a passionate defender of immigrants’ rights who reminds him uncomfortably of his own family’s struggles—Vega must rethink everything he believes to uncover long-buried truths about his community, his loved ones . . . and himself.

Filled with drama, mystery and raw emotions, Land of Careful Shadows shines a nuanced and timely light on a small town’s darkest secrets and deepest obsessions. It is not only a tour de force of literary suspense, but an intimate journey into the human heart.

 

 

I asked Suzanne to comment on her writing process and inspiration for her writing. Check out her website(address below) for more about Land of Careful Shadows and Suzanne.

 

 

Q&A on the writing process with Suzanne Chazin, author of Land of Careful Shadows, the first installment in the Jimmy Vega mystery series to be released November 25th, 2014 in hardcover from Kensington Books:

 

How do you come up with book ideas?

I’m curious by nature. I think writers have to be. The curiosity can be about something you’ve experienced or something someone else has experienced. But you need to feel drawn to that sense of wonder and surprise at the human condition.

My new series started from personal curiosity. My family and I were living in Mount Kisco, NY when my son was small. I was writing my first mystery series back then, about the FDNY (my husband is a chief in the New York City Fire Department). Every morning, I would take my son for a stroller walk downtown. I was struck by all the Hispanic men waiting for day-labor jobs by the train station. Even in the bitter cold, they were there and many of them went un-hired. I started to wonder about their stories—where did they come from? What had their life been like to make standing out there a good alternative? I wanted to find a way to explore their stories that didn’t feel heavy and preachy. As a mystery writer, I am always interested in stories that

Whether you write from your own personal experience or not, I think every good story comes from the unanswered questions inside of you.

 

What about that old adage: write what you know. True or false?

Writing, to my way of thinking, is always an exploration. Even people who write about their own lives are writing what they don’t completely understand in the hopes that the process of writing will sort things out more clearly.

A better adage, I think, is to write what you “want” to know. This could be trying to understand your parents’ divorce, a friend’s betrayal or—in the case of Jimmy Vega, the main character in my new series, how to come to terms with who you are when you never feel like you belong.

 

Tell me about Jimmy Vega. How did you come to write about a male Puerto Rican detective:

I’m a first-generation American and an only child. My father was born in Russia and my mother was born and raised in England. My parents didn’t really understand the cultural norms of suburban America in the 1970s. We weren’t the family that hosted barbecues or belonged to the PTA or rotary club. We didn’t follow football or baseball. You got good grades in school and got an after-school job as soon as you were old enough to work.

I understand immigrants. I understand that single-minded desire to succeed. But it can take a toll in the sense that you often feel different from your peers. There is always the sense that you’re an outsider looking in.

I have always been drawn to writing characters like that in my fiction. In my first mystery series, about the FDNY, my main character was a 5-foot-2-inch female firefighter-turned-fire-marshal. She was a short woman in a world of big, macho men. Although my husband is a firefighter, I have never stepped inside of a burning building. Still, I felt entirely comfortable inhabiting the skin of a woman my height who had to take on a challenge and prove she was capable. I think all women at some point find themselves in a position where they have to prove they are as a capable—if not more—than the men they’re around.

It may seem a leap to go from my fire marshal, Georgia Skeehan, to Jimmy Vega, a male, Bronx-born Puerto Rican homicide detective. But if anything, Jimmy is more like me than any character I’ve ever written. He constantly straddles two worlds—that of his traditional Puerto Rican upbringing and the suburban cop world he inhabits now. He is not traditionally religious. He has no political agenda. Because he’s not entirely enmeshed in any one point of view, he tends to be able to see most things with a dash of skepticism and humor.

 

What advice would you give to a beginning mystery writer now?

The world of publishing is much more difficult than it was when I started my first series. A manuscript has to be in pristine shape before an agent will take it on or a publisher will publish it. You need to be willing to write and rewrite your work—and don’t be shy about hiring an outside editor. An experienced eye is worth your time and money because often, once an agent or publisher rejects a book, they won’t look at it again so you don’t want to go out with anything that isn’t the absolute best you can make it.

 

 

About Suzanne Chazin:

Suzanne Chazin is the author of two mystery/thriller series. Her first, about the FDNY, include The Fourth Angel, Flashover and Fireplay. The series has been called “searing and emotionally explosive” (USA Today), and her heroine, fire investigator Georgia Skeehan, “incredibly strong” (People Magazine).

Chazin’s newest mystery series stars Jimmy Vega, an upstate New York cop navigating the world of the undocumented. The first book in the series, Land of Careful Shadows, has just been released by Kensington Books. “Timely and engrossing,” writes Publishers Weekly. Jimmy Vega is, “engaging, psychologically complex,” and the story “builds to a shocking conclusion.” Lee Child raves: “Hits the heart, not just the pulse, with people you come to care about. First rate and highly recommended.”

A former journalist, Chazin’s essays and articles have appeared in American Health, Family Circle, the New York Times, and People. She has twice been the recipient of the Washington Irving Book award for fiction. Her short fiction appeared in the anthology, Bronx Noir, which won the 2008 Book of the Year Award for special fiction from the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association.

Chazin has taught fiction and non-fiction writing at New York University, The New School for Social Research and Sarah Lawrence College. She was a 2012 writing fellow at Purchase College and is a frequent guest lecturer on writing at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.

Her website is: www.suzannechazin.com

 

The Devil’s Brigade

The Child on the Terrace, the latest in my Dangerous Journeys series, takes Anne McPhail across Spain to Barcelona, into France and along the Mediterranean to Menton, a small town on the Franco-Italian border, where she and the child are in grave danger.

Menton has a storied past:

During WWII, the Germans occupied Menton until the onset of Operation Dragoon in 1944.

The Devil’s Brigade, a joint US-Canada Special Forces Unit, was established in 1942 by U.S. Lieutenant-Colonel Robert T. Frederick. The Brigade fought in the Italian campaign and the liberation of Southern France, among others.  A stealth unit, it never failed to achieve its objective.

Since the war it has been the model for special forces around the world. In Afghanistan, the Canadian J2F2 was reunited with the American Delta Force for the 2001 invasion.

Every year, Menton Week is celebrated on or about the anniversary of the unit being disbanded at Menton on Dec. 5, 1944.

 

I’m in the midst of the final proofreading of The Child on the Terrace, soon to be published by Cambridge Books.

 

Missing and Exploited Children

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Many will remember the abduction of Madeleine McCann in 2003. She was one of thousands that year and in all the years since. The statistics from the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children detailed in the article below are horrifying.

http://www.icmec.org/missingkids/servlet/NewsEventServlet?LanguageCountry=en_X1&PageId=4896

The global problem of missing children is an issue that needs the immediate attention of law enforcement and officials around the world. It is estimated that at least 8 million children worldwide go missing each year. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that nearly 800,000 children will be reported missing each year in the United States. Other sources estimate that 40,000 children go missing each year in Brazil; 50,500 in Canada; 39,000 in France; 100,000 in Germany; and 45,000 in Mexico. An estimated 230,000 children go missing in the United Kingdom each year or one child every 5 minutes…

About the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) 
The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children is a private 501(c)(3) non-governmental, nonprofit organization. It is the leading agency working internationally to combat child abduction, sexual abuse and exploitation. The Organization has built a global network of 22 nations, trained law enforcement in 121 countries and worked with parliaments in 100 countries to enact new laws on child pornography. ICMEC works in partnership with INTERPOL, the Organization of American States and the Hague Conference on Private International Law among others. For more information about ICMEC visit: www.icmec.org.

Canadian statistics are provided by the RCMP here: http://www.canadasmissing.ca/pubs/fac-ren-2013-eng.htm

Just for readers of the blog:

The Child on the Terrace: The latest in Anne McPhail’s Dangerous Journeys is back to the publisher after proofreading. Difficult not to edit as well but that’s not the stage we’re at now. Reproofing at Cambridge Books and then back to me again.

Anne McPhail, retired pediatrician, shattered by her experience in Bermuda, rents a tiny house in Setenil, Spain, hoping to reconcile what she learned about herself and Thomas after the gunfire in that dark room on the island. 

But she sees a child on the terrace of the local café who doesn’t seem to belong to her minders and then Ari, the Mossad agent who saved Anne’s life, seeks her out with a plan to rescue the child from kidnappers. Should she trust him? Three days later, she is on the run with Ari and the little girl, with killers Esti and Sergio on their trail. She glimpses a man she thinks is Thomas. Is he, too in Spain? And why?

How far will Anne go to save Naomi?

From Spain to France to Italy, this is Anne’s most dangerous journey.