Recent Editing Projects

•   Click here for more info »


( No Comments )

Wanted: Men and Women for Pirate Adventure by Keith Thomson

May 20, 2013 by  •
Pleased today to welcome author Keith Thomson (Once a Spy and Twice a Spy) to the blog. It turns out that before he became interested in spies, Thomson was a big fan of pirates and pirate lore, and he’s decided to rerelease his first novel, Pirates of Pensacola. What is it Thomson finds so appealing about pirates? Why the adventure, of course!

Twice a Spy by Keith ThomsonIf you’re reading Elizabeth A. White’s site, you’re probably, like me, a thriller fiend. Likely you too consider reading a thriller the next best thing to a real-life adventure. So what do you say we dispense with discussion of literature today and plan an adventure?

I’ve essentially had this idea since I was a kid, growing up in a coastal Connecticut town that was whatever the opposite of fun is. But as anyone who’s gazed across wave tops toward the horizon knows, the sea offers boundless possibilities. I hoped to meet the notorious real-life pirate William Thompson—an ancestor of mine, I thought. He spelled Thomson the wrong way (with a p) but pirates weren’t known for their literacy. Also he died in 1825. Regardless, if you’re eight, you can stare out to sea and believe there’s a pretty good chance your pirate ancestor’s masts might appear on the horizon, and that he might row ashore and say to you, “Kid, I need you to go on an adventure to get gold.”

Twenty-some years later, this was pretty much the premise of my first novel, Pirates of Pensacola: A landlubbing accountant’s life is anything but exciting until his estranged pirate father shows up after twenty-some years in jail and says, “Let’s hit the sea, lad, there’s treasure to be got.” And the adventure is underway.

( 2 Comments )

When A Short Story Gets Completely Out of Hand by John McAllister

May 16, 2013 by  •
A book I’ve really been looking forward to, The Station Sergeant by John McAllister, was recently released by Portnoy Publishing. My review is forthcoming, but today I am extremely pleased to be able to host John for a guest post about how this novel came to be. As seems to be the case more often than those of us who aren’t authors may think, it appears that The Station Sergeant was the result of another character who just had a mind of their own and a story too big to be limited to a ‘short.’

John McAllister‘Barlow’ wasn’t supposed to be a novel called The Station Sergeant. He wasn’t supposed to be the inspiration for five stories. Barlow was only a ten minute exercise in the discipline of writing regardless of time or tiredness – that got out of hand.

During 1998 / 99, I was running my accountancy practice AND doing a full time Masters course in Creative Writing at Trinity College, Dublin. That often meant a five o’clock rise. Two hours creative writing followed by hours in the office then a late morning train to Dublin and getting home near ten o’clock at night. I always wrote on the train but one night I was particularly tired and promised myself that I’d write for only ten minutes and then sleep the rest of the way.

I poised my pen over the scratchpad with absolutely no idea what I wanted to write about. A childhood memory of a local policeman, John Barlow, came into my head and I wrote it down. More memories came back of the things the man had got up to and I scribbled them down as well. Ten minutes and a page of notes later Station Sergeant Barlow was striding through my imagination.

I wrote five stories about Barlow as part of my submission for an M.Phil. in Creative Writing, included them in my short story collection, The Fly Pool, and then forgot about Barlow. Except that…

( 1 Comment )

The Magic Circle by Jenny Davidson

May 10, 2013 by  •
The Magic Circle by Jenny Davidson“Your game-players might like to experience something of a gothic frisson.” – Anna

In The Magic Circle by Jenny Davidson, friends and roommates Lucy and Ruth are joined by a neighbor down the hall, Anna, in putting together a virtual reality game designed to take place in the Morningside Heights neighborhood surrounding Columbia University as it appeared in the 1880s. Players will be led through a series of events and challenges, needing to accomplish each in order to receive the clue needed to move on to the next challenge.

Early on, however, the idea starts getting kicked around about what would happen if, instead of remaining a sterile online experience, the game was brought to life via live-action role-playing instead? Wouldn’t that make things more interesting, more absorbing? If people were playing “for real” instead of nestled behind their computers or smartphones, wouldn’t that raise the stakes? Perhaps, if the game was done well enough, even challenge people to question what was real and what was just role-playing?

More than they could ever possibly have imagined.

( No Comments )

Blood Red Turns Dollar Green Vol. 2 by Paul O’Brien

May 9, 2013 by  •
Bill LoehfelmHe needed to mourn but he couldn’t yet, because he knew there would be more death to come. – Danno Garland

Paul O’Brien’s debut, Blood Red Turns Dollar Green, was one of the more enjoyable books I read last year, a wonderful combination of organized crime and professional wrestling circa the early 1970s. The book ended with a rather intense cliffhanger, and fortunately for fans of the first entry O’Brien is now back to pick up the story in Blood Red Turns Dollar Green Volume 2

As we learned in the first outing, professional wrestling in the early 70s was not the huge, centralized business it is today, but rather was broken into various territories held by individual owners spread throughout the country. And though the owners worked together to a certain degree for the greater good of the sport in general, at the same time each protected their turf ruthlessly.

One owner, Danno Garland, has managed to claw his way to the top of the heap and now controls the World Heavyweight Champion, which gives him tremendous power. It wasn’t an easy climb, however, and the backstabbing and double-crosses are now catching up with Danno. When his rivals lash out at him in a particularly horrific way, Danno turns his back on everything he’s ever known and loved and directs the same single-minded focus he used to build his wrestling empire to a new purpose–revenge.

( No Comments )

A Series I Never Planned to Write by Bill Loehfelm

May 8, 2013 by  •
Very pleased to welcome Bill Loehfelm back to the blog today. Bill’s novel The Devil She Knows was one of my Top 10 Reads of 2011, and the follow-up to it, The Devil in Her Way, was just released by Sarah Crichton Books. Today Bill explains how a character can take on a life of their own, whether the author planned on it or not.

Bill LoehfelmMaureen wasn’t supposed to be the new beginning. She was supposed to be the end.

She first appeared as a worn out and nameless waitress as the subject of a flash fiction piece I wrote over fifteen years ago – my attempt to tell the story of a tuxedo-clad woman I saw standing on a Staten Island bus stop in the early afternoon. I moved on to other work, to other stories and characters.

The waitress hung around through all that, appearing in various expanded versions of that first story. She materialized under a different name in another story, fleeing her job in a diner and an abusive lover on a stolen motorcycle. In my grad school thesis, she appeared in yet another incarnation as head cocktail waitress in a Caribbean resort, when she first started carrying a knife.

She makes an extremely brief walk through appearance on Staten Island in my second novel. That was when she got her name. Maureen Coughlin. I’d always liked her, and thought she had depth and resonance as a character. I’d suspected she would not be satisfied in short stories and supporting roles, but I had yet to build the right place for her.

Now, with her in the lead for me third novel, I’d found a place for her in a story about a woman who sees something she shouldn’t have. I was thrilled when, finally, Maureen came into her own enough to carry her own novel. I was excited for this character I’d known for so long to have her time in the spotlight.

( 5 Comments )

I’ve got a confession to make… by Dan O’Shea

May 3, 2013 by  •
Though he’s been known in crime fiction circles for quite some time, both for his own short story work (see, Old School) as well as his amazing readings of other people’s work (most notably, Steve Weddle‘s Oscar Martello stories), Dan O’Shea hit a milestone this week when his first full-length novel, Penance, was released by Exhibit A. Dan is truly one of the good guys, and it’s my extreme pleasure to welcome him for a guest post to celebrate the occasion of Penance’s release.

Some Ruminations on Short Fiction by Dan O'SheaI’ve seen some of the early reviews of PENANCE. One of the things I look for is what the reviews have in common. If there’s something, good or bad, that’s showing up in most of them, then it’s worth considering.

And one thing that’s popped up a fair amount is Chicago’s key role in the book – that it’s more than just the setting, that it is almost a character. I’m glad to see that. And a little worried.

‘Cause I made some stuff up. And I started with the very first scene.

I was just starting out, and I knew what I wanted. I wanted this old woman being blown away just stepping out of church after going to confession – and being blown away from a long ways off. That was causing problems. Because I didn’t know a specific church where I could set that scene. I knew it had to be a Catholic church. I knew I wanted it on the northwest side of the city. Now, I know the city pretty well, but it’s not like I know every church in town. I mean c’mon, there are 356 parishes in the Chicago archdiocese. So I started Googling, and then Google Earth-ing, trying to find exactly the right one.

I was wasting a lot of time. Then it hit me. Just make one up. It’s not like the Chicago in my book is a carbon copy of the one in real life. I mean yeah, there’s a dynastic Irish family running the mayor’s office and the political machine in my book and there sure was one in real life. But in real life, the succession from one Daley to another was interrupted by three different intervening administrations. Hell, Little Richie even lost the primary his first time out. And neither Daley ever had anyone killed as far as I know. Daley Sr. never had a dead son chopped up with an ax. I was already making stuff up.

( No Comments )

The Hardie Memorandum by Duane Swierczynski

May 3, 2013 by  •
The third book in Duane Swierczynski’s Charlie Hardie series, Point & Shoot, was released this past Tuesday (Mulholland Books). For both previous releases, Fun & Games and Hell & Gone, I was fortunate to have Duane stop by for a guest post. Today I am very pleased to welcome him back to complete his guest post trilogy, this time with an overview of how what started as a standalone book evolved into an amazing novel in three parts.

Duane SwierczynskiNow that the final installment of the Charlie Hardie trilogy is out, you probably think you know everything about our friendly neighborhood house sitter/prison guard/spaceman. Au contraire! Sure, a little more of his origin has come to light, but you don’t know the origin behind the origin. Not unless you were standing behind me, reading over my shoulder. (Which would have been creepy.) For instance, I’ll bet you didn’t know that…

Originally, Charlie was supposed to be a character readers have met before. In its earliest incarnation, my idea was to bring back a security guard named Vincent Marella from Severance Package and send him off on his own boozy, violent, sun-dappled adventure. Shaken and depressed from the events of that novel, Vincent takes a trip to Santa Monica for a few days using some insurance money. Of course, trouble follows him, as he’s a loose end in this international conspiracy. I kept the part about going out west part, but scrapped the rest.

Fun & Games was almost set in the backwoods of Pennsylvania. Although L.A. inspired the original idea, for a while I’d convinced myself it was better to stick to my own turf. In this version, Charlie would have been a house-sitter, only he’d be watching a cabin up in the Pocono Mountains—isolated and drunk, as one tends to be in the mountains. And then eventually he’d make his way back to Philadelphia for the big showdown with the Big Bad (who weren’t quite the Accident People—and there was no Mann yet). But SoCal continued to tug at my soul… and the Pocono Mountains soon became the Hollywood Hills, and the Philadelphia morphed into Studio City. And I’m glad I did, because…

( 1 Comment )

Finding Your Audience by Susan C. Shea

May 1, 2013 by  •
Very happy to welcome to the blog Susan Shea, whose book The King’s Jar is out today. The King’s Jar is the follow-up to Murder in the Abstract, the book which introduced Dani O’Rourke, chief fundraiser at San Francisco’s prestigious Devor Museum of Art and Antiquities. As she did in her first outing, The King’s Jar once again finds Dani at the center of a mystery, this time involving the murder of a renowned archaeologist. Today, Susan explains why many authors find themselves feeling just as uncomfortable and fish out of water as Dani does trying to solve a mystery when it comes time for them to self-promote.

Susan C. SheaEvery week, I get email invitations, blog announcements, and Twitter feeds offering me advice on how to reach people who will buy my book. Some of the advice is achievable at the individual effort level: Join Facebook, open a Twitter account, get busy on Goodreads, ask your local bookstore if you can read there.

Some of the advice requires a little help if you’re not tech-savvy: Create a lively web site, produce a newsletter, manage your tweets so you are visible to special sets of people, offer to do Skype book club events. You don’t have to be technologically proficient but it also takes time to set up library and club talks and visit the shrinking number of local newspapers that actually carry book reviews and author interviews.

Then there are the Big Deal suggestions: solicit reviews by credible critics, set up a real (that is to say, on-the-ground) tour to a city or region, hire a p.r. person to get you interviews, t.v. appearances, get Oprah to choose your book for her millions of devoted followers.

( No Comments )

The 5-2 Blog Tour: “Kilmahog” by Nigel Bird

April 26, 2013 by  •
The 5-2 Blog TourApril is National Poetry Month, and as part of that celebration Gerald So, the man behind The 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly, has organized the 30 Days of The 5-2 Blog Tour to celebrate the fantastic crime themed poetry that appears on The 5-2.

This is actually the second year for the 30 Days of The 5-2 Blog Tour, and I’m proud to be participating again. I admit I don’t read a ton of poetry myself, but as a fan of crime fiction I do try to visit The 5-2 on a regular basis. In addition to seeing many familiar names amongst the contributors, it’s a nice way to discover new talent as well.

During the 30 Days of The 5-2 Blog Tour, bloggers are taking turns spotlighting a poem of their choice every day in the month of April. I’ve chosen to feature the wonderful, haunting “Kilmahog” by Nigel Bird.

( No Comments )

The Secret to Writing by Paul O’Brien

April 25, 2013 by  •
Paul O’Brien’s debut, Blood Red Turns Dollar Green, was one of the more enjoyable books I read last year, a wonderful combination of organized crime and professional wrestling circa the early 1970s. I wasn’t the only one who loved the book–none other than wrestling legend and author himself Mick Foley got behind O’Brien’s work–and so O’Brien has picked up where he left off and now presents his eager readers with a sequel, Blood Red Turns Dollar Green Vol. 2. Along the way he appears to have discovered the secret to writing, which he has been kind enough to stop by today and share.

Paul O'BrienI have been lucky enough to begin my writing career under the wing of people who knew how to write story. They explained to me the rules and the boundaries and the arcs and payoffs of writing. I soaked up every word and tossed them left and right for fifteen years before I attempted my first novel last year, Blood Red Turns Dollar Green.

The novel came fifteen years after I began writing professionally for the theatre. After sixteen plays and a couple of screenplays. It also came after I’d been asked ‘what’s the secret to writing’ a couple of hundred times.

Secret?

Of course there is no secret. It’s all about the work, the perseverance, the skill, the time. Or is it? Over the last couple of months, during the writing of Blood Red Turns Dollar Green Vol. 2, I think I’ve uncovered the simplistic ‘secret’ that I was looking for.

So this piece is for everyone out there who has ever wondered what the secret to writing is. You might be surprised by my findings but bear with me.

( 2 Comments )

Pushover by Dianne Emley

April 23, 2013 by  •
Dianne EmleySince she’d already broken her first rule about following her instincts, she’d follow her second: never look back. – Iris Thorne

Having worked her way up to the position of branch manager at the brokerage firm of McKinney Alitzer in downtown Los Angeles, Iris Thorne is pretty confident she can handle anything life throws at her. That is until her ex-fiancé, Todd Fillinger, calls up with a major investment opportunity for Iris in Russia.

Her instincts tell her to skip the trip and let the past be the past, but lingering guilt over the way their relationship ended–Iris left Todd at the altar, in Paris no less–overrides Iris’s instincts and she finds herself on a plane to Russia.

Almost immediately upon her arrival it becomes apparent something isn’t quite right with the situation, or Todd. When pressed, Todd admits he’s been having trouble with the Russian mafia, which is trying to elbow in on Todd’s art brokerage business. The seriousness of the situation is made graphically clear when, as Iris looks on in horror, Todd is gunned down outside the restaurant where the two were to have dinner.

Initially taken in for questioning by the Russian police, and a shady man who doesn’t identify himself, Iris is eventually extracted from the sticky situation by a member of the US Consulate. Feeling a sense of obligation to Todd now more than ever, Iris agrees to carry an urn containing his ashes back to the US for delivery to Todd’s sister, figuring it’s the least she can do. If only she’d trusted her instincts and never gotten on that plane to begin with…