HEAD DOWN, MAKE WORDS (or how JA Konrath and Barry Eisler convinced me to write more)


Hello, hello.

This is not a blog about Amazon, Konrath, or self-publishing.  That blog is coming, but it is not todays.

Today I here to contemplate productivity.

Basically I have found myself, after book one of the Deacon Chalk series hit the bookstores, under the gun as far as deadline. Book 3 and e-novella 3 are due at the end of April.  I have been working diligently, making words, which is why we have had a few guests round these parts lately.  I have been plugging away.  I am now on track to finish in the allotted time which means that I will have written, and revised, roughly 100,000 words in about 2 months.

I have been able to accomplish this because I have a fairly clear idea where the story is going and coffee.

But this makes me realize that I need to be doing close to this level of production regularly. It’s not been a strain or a real struggle.

At close to that pace I could write 3+ novels a year.

Or have 5 novellas in 2 months.

I could build a nice sized catalog of stories in a short time.

Regardless of what I decide to do with pursuing publisher or indie publishing there is no question that the more material you have in the marketplace, the more money you make.

So I must write more because, by God I can. It’s not like I don’t have a list of story ideas as long as my gorilla style, freakishly long arm.

Maybe I will invest in Caf’e Bustello, the best damn coffee in the world….or at Walmart anyways.

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WHEN SPIES GROW UP THEY STILL PLAY WITH THEIR TOYS (an interview with thriller author Chuck Barrett)


I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Chuck at the Dahlonega Literary Festival in 2011. I had a great time, met some great folks, hung out with folks I knew, and had a blast. Chuck was one of the guys I talked to several times that weekend and have kept in touch with. He’s a helluva nice guy and a fellow International Thriller Writers member with me!

He just put out the 2nd book in his Jake Pendleton series, called The Toymaker, and I thought it would be nice to sit down and chat with him a bit.

So here goes:

  1. Your second book just hit the shelves. Give us a sum up of what’s going on in Jake Pendleton’s life in book 2.

Jake Pendleton finds himself embroiled again in a battle to thwart a terrorist’s evil purpose as he is propelled through deserts, explosions, gun battles and boat chases. Tormented by an unseen nemesis and his own embattled psyche, Jake must accept the help of a little known ally to the US Government and learn painful, but liberating lessons from The Toymaker, a secretive developer of spy toys and advanced technology.

2) Tell me about the Toymaker. I heard he is a real guy and I want to know if he is working for us or for the highest bidder!

Indeed he is a real man. And real-life Toymaker is as characterized in the book. I met him by happenstance on vacation in Utah in 2010. As we got to know each other, I realized he was dropping some of those buzz words I was used to hearing after years of reading spy thrillers. So, finally I just asked him if he made toys for spies. That was when I really got to know the true nature of his business. He invited me to his U.S. Factory to see some of the things he makes and has made. It was pretty cool to say the least. As far as who he works for—the real Toymaker is a true patriot. He’s served this country since the 1950’s. Any foreign entities he’s supplied ‘toys’ to have been at the behest or under contract through our government. For instance, the copper tents and TEMPEST setup was sold to the Australian Secret Intelligence Service. He’s had dealings with Mossad, Great Britain, as well as a few others. He’s not a highest bidder kind of guy. He’s a man of strong ethics and values and patriotism.

3) What do you think about the high number of J names in the thriller genre? How did you come up with the name for your character?

I don’t guess I ever really thought about until I read this question…probably because the protagonists in the most of the book I read are names like Mitch, Scot, Cotton, Myron, Michelle, Sean, and Oliver. Well, there is Jack Reacher, I guess there’s a J. I have noticed after looking into it that there are a lot of “J” named protagonists. I figure it’s probably just a phase…not unlike how baby names grow in and out of popularity over the years. But my main character will be around for many more thrillers so I guess I’ll keep adding to it. I came up with the name Jake by nothing more than putting together names until I found one that sounded like I’d want him as a main character…much like Gregg Kaplan or Elmore Wiley, or Francesca Catanzaro. They have a place and the name bears some significance in the story…even it’s its subliminal. There are some names where the name itself tends to sound ‘good guy.’ Conversely, there are names that just ring ‘villain.’ The reader will almost instinctively know which is which just by the name.

4) How did you go about getting published and what is your one piece of advice to the budding thriller writer out there?

My books are independently published. After years of frustration with dealing with the traditional publishing brick wall and the total lack of respect for authors, I figured there had to be a better way. And there is another way. As you know, the options for publishing today are many and none of them should be ruled out. Regardless of how you’re published—traditional, self, vanity…whatever—the number one rule is write a good book. Bottom line is a good story, written well, will sell. If you know you have a good, well-written story then explore ALL your options and don’t rule out anything until you’ve weighed them against each other.

5) Give me a list of the last five books you read (not for research, for fun).

Rules of Betrayal by Christopher Reich
Echo Park by Michael Connelly
Supreme justice by Phillip Margolin (who also endorsed The Toymaker)
The Jefferson Key by Steve Berry (who also endorsed The Savannah Project)
Full Black by Brad Thor

And I’m currently reading The Sixth Man by David Baldacci. Adding to my enjoyment was Frozen Past by Richard C Hale, who is a friend and just independently published his second thriller. Richard is an author to keep an eye on.

6) Hollywood came calling they want to know who you cast in the movie of The Toymaker.

Not an easy question to answer…but I’ll try anyway.
Jake Pendleton: Chris Hemsworth (Clean shaven and lighter hair)
Gregg Kaplan: Karl Urban (always with a 5 o’clock shadow)
Elmore Wiley (The Toymaker): Very difficult—Maybe Donald Sutherland because of his ability to eloquently portray eccentric characters.
Kyli Wullenweber: This one would require more thought. What started out to be a small character role ended up being major. I wouldn’t want to get this one wrong!

7) What’s next in your plan for world domination?

The 3rd Jake Pendleton thriller is in the works and is scheduled to be out by year’s end. At that point I’m tentatively planning on the first of the Gregg Kaplan stories. The two series, Jake Pendleton and Gregg Kaplan, will be distinctly different in flavor. The Jake Pendleton series will lend more toward suspense and intrigue whereas the Gregg Kaplan series will be more of a true mystery. But, as with most plans, that might change as well.

Click the book covers to read more about them and to get a link to buy.

Go support Chuck, cause he kicks mucho ass!

WHEN ART IMITATES CRIME


Loyals and True Believers,

Y’all know I am in a crime mood lately. I think I am gearing up to write the next novel which will NOT be a Deacon Chalk book. (Never fear, there will be much more Deacon, but after 3 novels and 3 novellas, I am ready for a break. lol) So I have been looking at some of my favorite artists who paint the canvas in tones of crime, noir, and hardboiled. I figured I would share some of them with you.

(Disclaimer: none of this art is mine. It is owned by the artist or their representative. This blog is merely for promotional use  only and should in no way be taken as a statement of ownership.)

Okay, first, here  is a guy whose stuff I admire. He gives a very classical feel to a very pulp/noir set of subject matter.

OWEN SMITH!

You can see he has a helluva eye and a helluva style.

Go HERE to see more and get some art!

Next up is a lady named Niagara.

Whatta dame. I have been in love with this ladies artwork for YEARS. It has a noir edge mixed with a 60’s pop art sensibility.

Niagara can be found HERE. Go buy her stuff.

And now the king of crime art. He made it cool using just two colors, black and white. His comic book SIN CITY captured the boiled down essence of the hard-boiled. The one, the only Frank Miller.

Go HERE to buy some SIN CITY swag.

And there you go. You might just see some noir artwork from yours truly soon. I am working on a short story collection of crime fiction called HIRED GUN that I think I am going to self publish. If I make it happen then I believe I am going to make some artwork to go with it.

Trust me, you will be the first to know.

EYEBALLS, NEEDLES, BURLESQUE GIRLS, AND INK (or an interview with Author/Tattoo Artist Julia Madeleine)


Loyals and True Believers HARK!

Today I bring you an awesome interview with a strange and unique person. She is one of the rare folks who are both a writer AND a tattoo artist like yours truly.

Julia Madeleine is Canadian and one helluva interesting Dame. Tune in and pay attention and at the end there will be FREE stuff.

Q&A with Julia Madeline

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Let’s start off with the good stuff, tell us about your newest book. It’s a prequel right?

There is a prequel called Scarlet Sins, which is a novella about a burlesque queen in the 1960s, her troubled marriage, and what she chooses to do to save it. Then there is my novel, The Truth About Scarlet Rose, about the subsequent murder of her husband and her grown daughter who has to help in the investigation.

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So why do you write such dark stuff? I mean you are a girl! Shouldn’t you be writing about love and stuff?

That’s funny James. Love is good. I write about love, but it’s usually love gone wrong, where someone is going to end up dead. Much more interesting that way, wouldn’t you say?

Now why did you choose to go the way of Amazon exclusivity? Would you recommend it to others?

I’m currently selling exclusively through Amazon because Kindle Direct Publishing allows for some great marketing tools like making your book free for a limited time which is a great way for new readers to find your work. I might eventually list my books with other eBook retailers like Kobo and Sony for example (never say never) but the market share for them is pretty small and they have a habit of discounting their books which affects the price on Amazon . The new king of the jungle is Amazon and they very author friendly.

 

What books or authors do you think influenced you as a writer? And what are you reading now?

I’ve read a lot of literary fiction since college and I think it influenced my writing considerably. Mary Gaitskill, Evelyn Lau, Joyce Carol Oates, Janet Fitch, Margaret Laurence. These days I’m pretty much reading just in the thriller genre. Currently I’m reading Hillary Davidson’s debut The Damage Done and Tumblin’ Dice by John McFetridge.

Okay, let’s switch gears to your other career. Like me, you are a professional tattoo artist. Your pinup work is super nice. Is that your favorite style?

 

Definitely. I love the classic pin-ups and I enjoy doing them in colour especially. They make for great tattoos. Gil Elvgren and George Petty are two of my favourite pin-up artists.

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Tell me how you got started in tattooing? Did you serve an apprenticeship or just sell your soul at the crossroads for the ability to tattoo?

 

I blackmailed my tattoo artist. Ha, ha. No, I just married him. When I lost my job as a match maker at a dating service, I started hanging around my husband’s shop answering the phones. I’ve always had an art background but never thought of doing anything professionally with it. Then I started to work on custom designs for clients and eventually that led to my husband teaching me to tattoo. He made that decision after the first time he had to cough up for my car payment. So basically tattooing found me, I wasn’t looking to be an artist at all.

How is the tattoo scene in your town? How is the author scene?

The tattoo scene is awesome. My husband Fabien, has had the shop, Malefic Tattoos, on the west side of Toronto for about 18 years so we’re well established and have worked at building a good reputation and a loyal clientele. I’ve been a tattooer myself for about 12 years. We’re in a big city, about 700,000 so no shortage of flesh. It’s cool to go through generations of families; the kids of parents we’ve been tattooing for years starting to come in now. Love seeing that. We’re doing the NIX tattoo show in Toronto this summer for the first time. So that’s going to be lots of fun.

The crime writing scene here is pretty good as well. We have an annual convention in Toronto called Bloody Words. It’s like a mini Thrillerfest. Lots of great Canadian writers.

Do you have any other creative outlets like painting or photography? Or do you stick with only the two of tattooing and writing?

I do but I’ve had to give them all up to feed my writing obsession. I used to paint and was into photography as well. I also used to design clothing and sew, garden, bake, make jewellery. All visual arts; I don’t sing, dance, or play music. But alas, writing is all consuming and in order to have the time for it, I’ve had to sacrifice all other creative mediums. Except for tattooing of course because that’s my career. It sucks sometimes because I still want to do all those other things, especially when I see things that inspire me. I really need to be more than one person.

 

Any advice to a person wanting to get into the writing gig?

Devour all the books on the craft of writing that you can get your hot little hands on. They will take your writing light years ahead. I’ve got Stein On Writing in audio book on my iphone and listen to it over and over. And I’ve got books with highlighted passages that I refer to regularly. You can never stop growing and learning, especially when it comes to writing. The same goes for tattooing. There’s always more to learn.

Thank you so much for coming by and sharing all your awesome with us!

Now, here’s the free stuff.

First, go check out Julia’s website.

http://www.juliamadeleine.com/

and then go pick up one of her books for FREE. Hell yes, you read that right, FREE on AMAZON but only March1-March3 2012. CLICK HERE TO GET IT..

STICK A NEEDLE IN MY EYE is a collection of 17 short stories of mayhem that are not for the faint of heart. These stories, one of which was nominated for a Derringer Award in 2011, have been featured in a number of crime fiction magazines. Buckets of blood are spilt between these pages, and some nice (and some not so nice) people die horrible deaths. Here you will meet a pedophile who picks the wrong little girl to try and molest; a clown who gets bullied by his wife one time too many, a serial killer who likes to take postmortem photographs of his victims, more than one angry wife/girlfriend seeking revenge on the other woman, and more than one escaped mental patient with murder in her heart.

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