NOIR IN THE HEARTLAND (or how me and Springsteen and a bunch of crime-writing badasses are making a difference)

Pay attention to this one, it’s BIG.

I’m in a new anthology. I know, I know, I’m in a LOT of anthologies, but this one is a bit different. This one is a Crime Fiction anthology being put out by Gutter Books and Zelmer Pulp based on the songs of Bruce Springsteen. All the proceeds go to the Bob Woodruff Foundation which helps our veterans, cause dammit that’s what the Boss would want.

You may ask, WHY is this anthology different? Well, first of all it’s cool as hell, but secondly, it has some HUGE names in it. How huge? DENNIS LEHANE huge. HILARY DAVIDSON huge. Peter Farris, Chris F. Holm, Chuck Wendig, Les Edgerton, and Todd Robinson plus a shit-ton of other awesome authors huge.   Look at the cover:


Ain't it loverly?

Ain’t it loverly?



Cover credit. Hells yes.

And you all know my LOVE for crime fiction. I wrote about it HERE.

So what did I write about? My story is based off the song I’m On Fire. I’ve been listening to that damn song and been haunted by it for decades. It’s a spooky, creepy song full of human darkness. The second I was asked to be part of this by my good buddy Brian Panowich I knew I was writing that song. Got the official and wrote that beauty up in one sitting.

It’s dark. Real fucking dark.

It’s set in a place outside Culvert City, my crime fiction town, in a place called Butcher’s Holler and the time is somewhere around the 40’s.

Here’s what Joe Clifford, the editor, said after reading the piece.

Finally started editing the Springsteen antho. Just read your story “I’m on Fire.” Wow. I mean, just wow . . . 

. . . Got some Knockemstiff in there (which is my favorite short story collection), with just enough tongue-in-cheek nod to the Boss. Really, the perfect story for this collection. Well done, sir. Well fucking done.

I’ll take that. So keep your eyes peeled for the announcement of it going on sale and be ready to enjoy some awesome noir, inspired by an awesome singer, for an awesome cause.

And go LIKE the Facebook page for this anthology HERE

and here is a link to the video.


NEW DEACON CHALK BOOK! (or no clever title on this one, just getting the word out)

HARK! all Loyals and True Believers the wait is over!

Now you can have an ALL NEW DEACON BOOK! (sorta)

Please welcome to the family SPECIAL FEATURES: A Deacon Chalk Short Story Collection

Look at it! I MADE that shit. Took the photo, did the layout, that's all MINE!

Look at it! I MADE that shit. Took the photo, did the layout, that’s all MINE!

Okay, let me explain. I look at the three novellas and three novels in the Deacon Chalk series so far as the first season of a really kick ass urban fantasy television show. Like the most kick ass show that ever was.

THAT THING AT THE ZOO, BLOOD AND BULLETS, SPIDER’S LULLABY, BLOOD AND SILVER, CIRCUS OF BLOOD, and BLOOD AND MAGICK.  If you read straight through from the first you get one long story arc. This is the special features disc of that dvd set. (hence the clever title lol) Inside you will find short stories that happen around and between the published titles including DOLLY an all new, never before seen novelette that shows Deacon when he first started monster hunting. It’s Deacon: Year One.
You also get bonus material, character interviews, an essay, some special treats, a cut scene from BLOOD AND MAGICK, and a wrap up story set after BLOOD AND MAGICK that puts an elegant bow on the whole first season.

Damn right.

Some of this material has been published on the interwebs, but all of it has all been polished and a lot of it is new and all of it falls in a line. Plus it will look awesome on your book shelf.

More Deacon is coming. I promise. You will see some short stories, some novellas and a full novel soon because the second season is about to start and let me tell you something, I am upping the ante. You thought the series was wild before, well now it’s going completely off the rails!!!!!!!!!! THIS is the series with more balls than any other urban fantasy series out there and shit’s about to get buck.

But until that happens, buy this.

Here’s the BIG ASS BUY LINK FOR AMAZON which is where you can get it in print and kindle format.

Here is the BIG ASS BUY LINK FOR B&N where you can get it for your nook.

And while you are at it look over at my two other indie published titles:


I drew the art for this as well as doing the layout!

I drew the art for this as well as doing the layout!

Lovecraftian horror at the edge of space! Scary sci fi with a terrific character.





I took the photo and did the layout for this!

I took the photo and did the layout for this!

My crime fiction short story collection. It’s gritty and dark and awesomely violent.



And thank you for all your loving support. It means the world to me and I love you very much.

THE REAL SCOOP ON SELF-PUBLISHING (no BS. Talking to my successful indie author friends.)

If you read books then you know that things they are a changing in the publishing world. A lot of folks are up in arms over the advent of independent publishing, or as it is know more commonly, self publishing. Now I have dipped my toe in that water. I have a self-pubbed little crime collection out. It’s full of these tiny crime stories that I love and think are kick-ass. They are too short for anyone to pay me for publishing them traditionally so I did it myself. It sells well and I had fun.

But I’m not a self-published author. It’s a ton of work and I do love my publisher. Kensington has been very good to me. So I am not an expert on what it’s like to really be a self-publisher. However, I am lucky enough to have many wonderful friends who self-pub. I chose three of them to interview for you today. Now I picked these three folks because of a few reasons.

1) They are all very talented. These are folks who are self publishing because they CHOOSE to, not because they suck.

2) They are actually making a livable wage (and then some) by self-publishing.

So without further adieu:

Q: Tell the readers a bit about yourselves.

Annabel Joseph: My name is Annabel Joseph and I’ve been writing for publication since about 2007. I started out at the two largest e-romance publishers and moved to self publishing after my 5th book. I have fourteen books out now with two more on the way, and I’d classify myself as a successful self-published author since I make a good living at it. I’m so thankful for my readers, because a lot of my success has come through word of mouth.

Jennifer Malone Wright: I write mostly paranormal fiction, you know…the kind with vampires and people who have special powers. My book that sells the best is The Vampire Hunter’s Daughter. I may delve into other genres, but for the most part they will always have a paranormal twist.

John Hartness: I’m John G. Hartness, author of The Black Knight Chronicles urban fantasy series from Bell Bridge Books, and the creator of Bubba the Monster Hunter and his series of short stories. I’m a professional writer, lighting designer, theatre director, writing instructor, poet, drunkard and knight-errant. Some people call me Maurice, ‘cause I speak of the pompatus of love.

Q: Why did you choose to self-publish?

Jennifer Malone Wright: The Decision to self publish was a huge decision and it was not made lightly. Seriously, I was researching publishing, agents, query letters and also the process of self publishing for years before I finished my first book. I finally chose self publishing because of the ebook boom and wanted to see what I could do with it before I pursued an agent.

Annabel Joseph:  It was a convergence of several things. First, I got a terrible cover for one of my traditionally published books. And when I say terrible, I mean, people went out of their way to write to me and say, “I did not buy your book because the cover was THAT bad.” When I complained to the publisher I was basically told to shut up, which smarts. I mean, that’s my book I labored over, and their cover sunk it. I’ll never get over it.

Around that same time, a friend convinced me to self publish one of my edgier books on Amazon. It started to sell–really SELL. By the second month it climbed to number one on the erotica bestseller list and stayed there for over a week. I had priced it at $2.99 and I sold thousands of copies at that price. I’m not saying that’s normal, but for whatever reason, the book generated word of mouth, and I made $12,000 on it that month. Meanwhile, my traditionally published book with the awful cover was priced at 11.90 and sold, I don’t know, maybe 30 copies.

I did the math in my head…hmmm…do I want to sell 30 copies a month and make $30 in royalties, or sell 6000 copies a month and get $12,000 in royalties? I was actually in contract negotiations with my next book and pulled out. The publisher got mad and it was a bad scene, but I’ve never looked back and I don’t regret it. For me, it was a matter of making a living at what I was doing, or not making a living, and I wanted to make a living.

John Hartness: I got impatient with the traditional publishing process. Not understanding the sheer volume of submissions agents and publishers receive, I waited a month after sending out my first few query letters and pulled the trigger on self-publishing.

Q: Do you love self-publishing or do you wish you were with a traditional publisher?

John Hartness: Even now that I am with a traditional publisher, I can’t foresee ever selling all my properties to traditional publishers. I love the editorial support I get from my publisher, but I love the control of self-publishing. And I write so much faster than any publisher could keep up with, so I will always keep at least one foot in the self-publishing waters. I look at all of it as stops on the journey. I learned a ton self-publishing that I’m now able to apply to my traditionally published works. Then I’m learning a ton through working with a traditional press that I can apply to my self-pub work. So it all flows back and forth.

Jennifer Malone Wright: There are some days I would disagree with the statement I’m going to make, but for the most part I totally love self publishing. I love being able to keep track of all my sales and know what works and what doesn’t. I love the creative process of picking covers and stuff like that. I actually like marketing so doing that doesn’t bother me either. The only thing I really don’t like is the accounting part of it.

Annabel Joseph: I only miss one thing about traditional publishing, and that’s the “prestige” factor. It doesn’t matter how many books you’re selling or how much money you’re making…a self-published author still appears “lesser” than a traditionally published author. There’s a stigma attached to it, the assumption that you’re self publishing because your work’s not publishable, and that’s not always the case.

I should mention here that I do believe it’s beneficial to put out at least a book or two the traditional way– if you can–because you learn a lot about what and what not to do. You learn a lot of things about writing and editing. If you’re determined to begin your career as a self publisher, do yourself a favor and hire an experienced editor to help you through your first few books. You need it. It’s costly, but I can’t stress this enough…everyone needs editors. Everyone. Every. One. Pay the money.

Q: I know each of you spend money on your covers. How important is a good cover to the sellability of the book?

Annabel Joseph: I know from experience they have a massive effect on book sales. My best covers have my best sales. My worst covers have my worst sales. Publishers will tell you–when you don’t like your cover–that covers don’t matter. It’s such a lie. When I talk to readers, they tell me they judge the cover before the blurb. You can have the best blurb in the world, but if that cover pic doesn’t compel them to click, they aren’t going to get to the blurb. Books live and die by the Amazon thumbnail, so not only do you need a great cover…it needs to be compelling in itty-bitty thumbnail form.

John Hartness:  I think a good cover is critical, particularly in paperback. I know I lost sales before I re-did all the covers to my books last year. I spend less money and time on my ebook short stories, but I can almost get away with that. But when I’m asking someone to shell out money for my novels, they need to get a professionally presented product.

Jennifer Malone Wright: Oh my goodness. A good cover is sooo important. I have seen several of my friends change their covers to something better and see their sales jump dramatically. I never did my own covers, The Vampire Hunter’s Daughter sells really well and the covers are great. My other novel, The Birth of Jaiden, doesn’t sell so well so we are going to try and come up with a new cover when we do the re release after it has been re edited. Think about how many books are out there, if yours doesn’t have an eye catching cover people will scan right on past it.

Q: What’s the best thing about self-publishing?

Jennifer Malone Wright: The best thing about self publishing is that I am in control of all my own work and I get a pretty good royalty compared to what traditionally published authors get.

Annabel Joseph: Control of your work is the number one best thing. A self publishing author controls the cover, the subject matter, the release date, the price, the formats, everything. Until you get a bad cover, or have an ebook out there priced at $11 totally tanking, you don’t understand how important that control is, or how powerless you are at a traditional publisher. Basically, you have NO power and no rights to your work, even though you’ve written the book. It’s difficult. With self publishing, you never have to surrender your rights or your power.

Self-publishing also allows you to bend genres and tiptoe around the outside of various genres, because you can put out things publishers don’t want to take a chance on. I’ve come to realize there are a lot of things readers want that publishers won’t touch. Self publishing allows authors to fill that niche. I had a historical called Lily Mine that a publisher kicked out a week before the release date because they said the ending was too implausible. It was a Cinderella-type story, and I believed readers would love it, so I published it myself. It climbed to number 12 on the erotica bestseller list and has continued to sell well for over a year now. Publishers aren’t always right about what people want to read.

John Hartness: The control.

Q: What’s the worst thing?

John Hartness: Having to do it all myself. I’m a team of one on my self-pub stuff, and with my traditionally pubbed work I’ve got a group working with me.

Jennifer Malone Wright: I said it before up there, the accounting. I freaking hate the whole save this for your taxes and make sure to claim this and blah blah blah… I hate it!

Annabel Joseph: Lack of respect, lack of opportunity. I have to kiss a lot of butt and do a lot of networking to get a spot at conferences or author panels, or to get reviewed on the bigger blogs. I’m not welcome at big romance conventions like RWA or RT, even though I imagine my sales match or exceed their published authors. It’s a constant struggle to be taken seriously, to prove yourself.

Q: Do you still get flack for being self-published, or has that day passed us by?

Annabel Joseph: No, it hasn’t passed us by. I do feel like the red-headed stepchild of the publishing industry. A lot of doors are closed to me because of the choices I’ve made, but I remind myself that I’m making a living at writing because I’m self publishing. The checks I get from my publishers are about 1/10 of the checks I get from my self-published work, and I don’t want to go back to those slave wages over an issue of pride. I have to remember it’s about the success, not the prestige. It’s about reaching readers and being able to stay home and do this as a full-time job. It’s worth a few people looking down their noses at me.

John Hartness: We’re not quite past that day, but we’re close. I still get a few snubs from cons and book festivals that won’t look at self-pubbed authors, and some agents and editors still look down their nose, but more and more people are travelling the hybrid author road, so it’s starting to look less like a decision people are forced into and more like a viable career path.

Jennifer Malone Wright: I do think, to an extent that that day has passed us by, but not completely. When I was first published I did get flack. You know, like when someone says “Oh, your published! With who?” then you tell them you are self published and you can see their whole facial expression change and they say “Oh.” Yeah, that has passed us by. We still have a long way to go to overcome the stigmas and stereotypes of self publishing over the years.

Q: Any predictions about the future? What will happen with traditional publishing? What will happen with self-publishing?

John Hartness: I think the picture of the author of the future will be different from the author of today. I think with a hybrid career (some trad pub, some self pub) we’ll see more midlist authors able to actually make a living off their writing, and writing will become a viable profession once again. I think the mass market paperback is dead within five years unless you’re a top 20 bestseller, and it will be replaced by ebooks and trade paperbacks. And I think we’re in the midst of a renaissance for small press and micro-press publishers.

Jennifer Malone Wright: I think we are always going to have traditional publishing, I don’t really have a prediction about them. For independent publishing, I think it will keep rising up and eventually a lot of these independent authors will be very, very well known. However, independent publishers must realize that we must have our product be equal or better than the traditional publishers or the self publishing industry will fall again.

Annabel Joseph: I think publishers will have to become more service-oriented to keep authors in the fold. The exodus to self-publishing has already begun, and to retain authors, publishers will have to cough up some perks to offset the low royalties they pay, like more author control. They’ll have to cater more to their authors and maybe even offer to do the promo legwork that has traditionally fallen into the author’s lap.

Otherwise I don’t see how they survive, how they remain relevant. Once the digital market overtakes the paper book market, and mass distribution of paper books loses importance, all publishers really have to offer is prestige and whatever perks they can think up to convince authors to share their royalties with them.

All I know is things are changing like crazy. It will be interesting to see where they end up.


WOW! Thank you all for being so open and up front. I appreciate it.

See, dear reader, this is what you DON’T get from other blogs. I bring you the straight dope from folks who are LIVING this. Now do your part. These are all PHENOMENAL authors. You like to read so go buy one of their books. Follow them on twitter, like them on faceybook, repost their stuff. These fine folks are worthy of your support. Love them like you love me and buy their shit. 🙂

Here are your links:




Twitter: @annabeljoseph

Fetlife: Annabel_Joseph

Latest release: BURN FOR YOU


Facebook :


Twitter:  @johnhartness.

Latest Release: SIXTEEN TONS A Bubba the Monster Hunter short






Amazon Author Page:

WHAT HAS BEEN GOING ON? (The Happy-haps)

Okay gang. I have a LOT happening right now.

First of all BLOOD AND SILVER is about to drop and roundhouse kick the urban fantasy world in the neck. It’s available this Tuesday (Aug. 7th) and here are some early reviews:

“This is urban fantasy as men’s fiction—Sookie Stackhouse meets the Dresden Files by way of Maxim.” -Publisher’s Weekly

“Not only was Blood and Bullets not a fluke, but it seems as if it was nothing more than Tuck merely flexing his muscles, cracking his knuckles as he tossed off a quick “warming-up” novel before he really got down to business and started writing.” –

“I think Blood and Silver was even more exciting than Blood and Bullets, although I hate to say it because that one is in my top favorite books EVER and I don’t want to hurt its feelings.” –Literary Escapism

To celebrate I am having a book release on the 7th at 7pm.
If you are in the Atlanta area then come out to Foxtale Books in Downtown Woodstock. It’s gonna be a blast. I am having friends join me, awesome authors like:

Kalayna Price – USA Today Bestselling author of The Alex Craft and Haven novels.

Janice Hardy – Author of the Healing Wars trilogy.

Delilah S. Dawson – Author of the Sang series.

Annabel Joseph – Bestselling author of many erotica novels.

Alex Hughes – Author of Clean.

And we are doing a series of short readings, then Q&A, then signings, then a second Q&A geared toward authors, all moderated by the chief moderator of the Horror and Dark Fantasy track at Dragoncon, and book blogger for Bitten By Books, Carol Malcolm.  You will have access to not just me, but SIX incredibly talented authors. If you love the genre or write the genre THIS is the best opportunity you are ever going to have. Come out, bring a friend!

Speaking of Dragoncon I have my initial schedule of appearances. It is pretty action packed and I am loving it. Nine official panels, one more that I have been asked to sit in on (more on that closer to the time), and they hopefully will schedule a signing or a reading for me.  PLUS this year I am a member of the Author’s Lair booth in one of the big dealer rooms where my books will be sold and I will be there when I can to meet, greet and sign. Here is where I will be.

Title: The Good, the Bad and the Undead
Description: The never-ending appeal of vampires
Time: Fri 11:30 am Location: Centennial I – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

Title: Vampocalypse Now!
Description: Life in a world conquered by vampires
Time: Fri 02:30 pm Location: Embassy A-B – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Moderator / MC for panel

Title: Remake It!
Description: A discussion of horror remakes, good and bad. What movies could stand to be remade?
Time: Fri 07:00 pm Location: Embassy C – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

Title: Our Monsters, Ourselves
Description: What each generation’s choice of monsters says about the world we live in
Time: Fri 08:30 pm Location: Embassy A-B – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

Title: Pulp History
Description: From western penny mags to early sci-fi digests, great literature has come on cheap paper. Past, present & future collide in serialized dime fiction.
Time: Sat 11:30 am Location: International BC – Westin (Length: 1 Hour)

Title: Zombies: Beyond Armageddon
Description: Zombies in non-apocalyptic scenarios
Time: Sat 02:30 pm Location: Embassy A-B – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Moderator / MC for panel

Title: Urban Fantasy – What exactly is it?
Description: What makes urban fantasy different than other kinds of fantasy?
Time: Sat 04:00 pm Location: Centennial I – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

Title: You Are What You Fight
Description: How heroes identify (or not) with their monstrous foes
Time: Sat 07:00 pm Location: Embassy C – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

Title: This Is My Boomstick!
Description: Fans of the Evil Dead, unite!
Time: Sun 02:30 pm Location: Embassy A-B – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
And last but in no way least I am excited to announce that I am teaming with Seventh Star Press to bring you a terrific Sword and Sorcery anthology called THUNDER ON THE BATTLEFIELD. It will be a tremendous collection of new stories in the same vein as Robert E. Howard’s Conan, Michael Moorcock’s Elric, and Fritz Leiber’s Fafnir and Grey Mouser. Lots of action, lots of blood splashed steel, lots of face rocking awesome.

Seventh Star is a wonderful publisher and I am pleased as hell to be working with them.
Read about it here:

and if you are a writer read the actual submission call here:

Oh, and I am currently working on not one but TWO new, non-Deaconverse, manuscripts. 🙂


Here’s a general rundown of what I am doing and have been doing and the general crazy that is my life right now.

First of all I am all over the place. This Saturday (June 23rd) I will be at the BOOKS-A-MILLION in Canton, Ga from 1-3pm signing books with my two good friends Janice Hardy (author of THE HEALING WARS series) and Delilah S. Dawson (author of WICKED AS THEY COME). Plus there will be a store-wide sale of at least 20% off so come out, buy some books, meet some writers, get some signatures, SAVE THE HUMAN RACE FROM EXTINCTION!

SPIDER’S LULLABY the second e-novella in the Deacon Chalk series hits this Tues. (June 26th) at all fine e-tailers for only $1.99

Then next weekend (June 29-July 1) I will be at FANDOM FEST in Louisville, KY.

You should come out for this one if you can. It is gonna rock! 140+ writer guests. It will be insane. Pluse media guests like BRUCE CAMPBELL AND PETER DAVISON.

Here is my schedule for the convention.

Friday 2:30pm Jones Room How to Be a Panelist

Friday 5:30 pm Jones Room Horror Cage Match

Friday 8:30 pm McCreary Room Shrewsbury Night Live! With Special Guests James R. Tuck, John Hartness, and Brady Allen

Saturday 1pm Morrow Room Robert E. Howard Roundup

Saturday 4pm Beckham Room I want to Be a Vampire (M)

Saturday 5:30 pm Beckham Room Exploring Genres Urban Fantasy

Sunday 11:30 pm Fields Room Guns and Monsters How to Write Urban Fantasy (M)

Sunday 1pm Beckham Room The Big 6 and Traditional Press’ Place in Today’s World

Plus a reading and a signing.


The next weekend (Saturday July 7)  I will be at a MASSIVE SEVEN AUTHOR EVENT in Columbia, SC      4pm-7pm

3400 Forest Dr, Columbia, South Carolina 29204-4041

Me, Kalayna Price, John Hartness, Misty Massey, Rachel Aaron, Delilah S. Dawson, and A. J. Hartley.  If you are in the area, come out!


I have dipped my toe into the self publishing world with this special little ditty:

I did this myself y’all!



A new collection of short stories set in Culvert City, a place where bad people do bad things to each other. This is CRIME done the way it should be. Dark, gritty, hard as concrete and twice as cold.

Hard-eyed men and quick-draw dames.

You’ll meet a hitman with no name who does what he’s paid to do with style, a young buck finding his place, and a woman pushed to the edge and over.

This is how crime fiction should be written…like a knuckle sammich across the kisser. You get six stories and they sit like a full chamber on a snubnose Saturday night special, loaded hot and ready to fire.

Welcome to Culvert City, watch your back.

Buy it on Amazon for only $1.99 (more formats and places to buy to come soon!)

Plus the release party for BLOOD AND SILVER Deacon Chalk book 2 is coming on August 7th at FoxTale Books in Woodstock Ga.

Whew! I’ll catch y’all on the flip side.


Okay. First of all, thank you all for hanging out and waiting for me to show up. Whew I have been busy.

Here’s what has been going on.

I had TIMEGATE which was awesome. I saw the always awesome Jackson Pearce for just a few minutes, met Debbie Viguie and got to hang out with her, which was awesome and awe inspiring. She is hella nice and a NYT Bestselling author. We found that we see things really closely to each other and got on great! Her husband is a tough SOB too. He fell Friday night in the shower and spent the rest of the con in a wheelchair and popping tylenol to make his ELEVEN panels (which he did) then on Monday they go and discover HIS ARM WAS BROKEN THE WHOLE TIME. Wow.

Also met The Mad Norwegen Lars from Mad Norweigen Press. Did some opinionating about Doctor Who on panels and met Caitlin Blackwood and David Nykl. The Missus got their autographs. And any con I can have her with me is a better con experience.

(plus there is a super secret project in the works that I am BESIDE MYSELF that is in development. I know that is a tease, but trust me, it is huge and I will spill as soon as I can)

Now on to CON CAROLINAS!!!

Con Carolinas rocked my face off! I had a great time.

Seriously. I saw great friends I knew. Faith Hunter, David B. Coe, and J. F. Lewis (although not as much which is sad cause I freaking love hanging out with him Two comic geeks can talk for hours.)

I also made new friends. John Hartness (my brother from another mother. Buy His Shit!) Amazon keeps linking us together and now I know why. He writes a ton of stuff but check out his BUBBA THE MONSTER HUNTER books. It’s Larry The Cable Guy meets Harry Dresden.

I also met and hung out with Kalayna Price, Misty Massey, Carrie Ryan, Siobhan Kinkade, Sara Taylor Woods (who totally ROCKS), and a metric ass-ton of folks that would take me too long to list.

A special mention is Rachel Aaron. Firstly she is awesomely nice. But secondly she wrote a Blog that is amazing!


It’s not a gimmick, not a trick. It’s just a common sense way to double or triple (or quintuple) your word count.

The ever awesome Carol Malcom of Bitten by Books Blog and Dragon Con rode with, making the trip an enjoyable one.

The weather was lovely. I sold a ton of books, met a ton of folks, did some GREAT panels and have some stories to tell……another day.


I am audi 5000.

Keep on reaching my Loyals and True Believers.

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.

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!


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.


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


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.

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.