Okay, so a friend told me he was really excited about the sample and then disappointed to see it was just from the first book, which he’d already read. So for those eager to find out about book 2, here’s a snippet:
Sing Sing was at a pretty nice location on the Hudson River, 30 miles up from New York City. The cells inside were tiny– I had been there before on a couple of occasions as a cop– but the buildings were made of white local stone and the long rows of small windows made the complex look charming from a distance. There was a nearby train station. All in all, if it weren’t famous for its prison, you could think you were passing a resort. And that gave me an idea.
I drove to Ossining alone, parking my car blocks away and strolling along the streets until I was starting to pass the outer wall. I looked curiously at it, as if I’d never seen the place before. I stuck my hands in my pockets, backing out into the street to take in the massive barrier properly. I pulled my hands back out, empty, and pulled my hat off so the brim didn’t block my view as I gaped up at the guard tower. “Hey, buddy!” I called out cheerfully to the guard. “Is this Sing Sing?”
“Yeah. What do you want here?”
“We don’t have anything like this back in Montana. Do you guys have tours?”
“Well, can I come in?”
That did it.
“Sure you can come in here. We’d be absolutely delighted. You want to know how to get in here? You break the law, get arrested, and get sent up the river like all the other inmates!” He sneered the first part and yelled the rest, while I grinned at him with genuine pleasure. The nice thing about New Yorkers is it’s pretty easy to tip them over into sarcasm… and magic doesn’t care if you’re being sarcastic or not.
Whether it’s a pull quote, the preview feature on Amazon, or sites where you can read up to 20% of the book for free (I enabled the highest setting, because I have confidence people will want to find out what happens next), sharing is caring and I was delighted to see a reader share a bit of dialogue that caught her fancy via a Kindle feature. Go ahead and look. Maybe share something you liked, too.
I also will be sharing samples now and then that don’t spoil the stories. Humor in my books is one of the thing I really pride myself on and I as shocked to notice my posts so far haven’t been very specific about that. The characters both are deliberately witty, with sparkling banter or biting wit when it fits, and sometimes… well, there may be moments where Raf seems more like Buster Keaton than David Niven. Frankly, I think it makes him easy to relate to.
No, I’m not coming out as a computer simulation of a writer. I just want to directly and specifically welcome people to comment or email me, with their questions, comments, etc.
I know I was very shy about writing to writers I liked. Many writers have day jobs. The ones that write for a living have deadlines, contracts, pitches to make, queries to send, and so on. I worried that asking them to take time to respond to one person was impertinent and intrusive.
Now, I’m on the other end of the pen, as it were, and I can tell you– it can feel kind of lonely! When you’re on stage before an audience, you get continuous real time feedback from multitudes. When you paint, you do art shows and get to peek at people’s reactions as they look at your work. Sometimes they come over and tell you what spoke to them, or what well-known artist’s style you’re reminding them of. But there’s a time delay with writing, almost always. I have Allan read my stuff in front of me, often, because I want to gauge his reactions. When I sent out my main draft to my beta readers, I was lucky enough to have a couple who were moved to write to me in the middle of reading it. That was quite helpful– sure, I loved my book, but it needed to be good to other people.
I’ve fixed a typo a reader spotted that slipped by proofreading, and I suspect my Spanish and Russian dialogue has flaws. If you want to give me a correction, I am likely to find it helpful.
All this is a long way of saying, I really do value my readers and welcome feedback. I’d even be glad to know who is reading my blog, even if you haven’t gone for the book. Some people just like to see how writers think and plan. Where are you from, and how is life treating you?
I didn’t write a horror book. At least, I didn’t think I did. I wrote a detective novel… with elements of supernatural danger.
But… while there was some scary scenes, the overall tone, I felt, was too optimistic to be horror. It was an adventure tale. A friend said she couldn’t read scary tales when I was writing it. At first I told her she’d need to skip a chapter and I’d give her a synopsis. Maybe two. Then she said Harry Dresden books were too scary for her. I told her to forget it. And I didn’t hold back when it came to the creep factor if I had a good idea to build the tension somewhere.
But it was not a horror story. I’d written horror before, short stories. Those were grim. Forever’s Too Long wasn’t grim. It was full of friendship and love, music and kindness. Levity was sprinkled throughout.
A coworker refused to read it on the grounds of she didn’t read scary stuff.
I rethought how I’d been looking at it. It was an adventure, yes, and a tale of friendship and love, but couldn’t you say the same about Dracula, which authentically was about Johnathan struggling to get to Mina, Mina resisting the call of the vampires, and friends coming together to fight the undead monster who had killed an innocent among them. You couldn’t call one of the classics of horror not horror just because it had a happy ending. And the creepy stuff was creepy enough I couldn’t push it on someone who couldn’t stand anything mildly scary.
So, I sent a copy to a friend who reviews horror. I’ll see whether she thinks it’s horror or not.
When Allan got the idea for The Vampyre Blogs: Coming Home, he wanted to write the story of a man who was changed by an encounter with a creature from a parallel Earth. In the Para-Earth series, infinite, or nearly so, timelines exist and in some Earth exists, but evolution happened differently. In this case a kind of intelligent slime-mold formed a symbiotic relationship with the man blown into it’s universe. And although he gets home, he finds that as a result of the bonding he is to all intent a living vampire, with a very prolonged life. Yet over a century later, he must deal with a monster from that same universe which found its way into his world. I’m a co-author on that series, because, although Allan does the majority of the actual writing, I’ve done such extensive work with him on the science aspects, creature development, and character interactions, he sees me as co-creator.
Allan wanted to introduce him to the audience through the eyes of two teen girls, one who had known him since her earliest days, and another meeting him for the first time. A lot of the story revolves around them.
Over a year after it was released, a friend pointed out to him that he’d written a young adult novel. He re-read it and yes… the teens were really the ones with the most important story arcs, as they underwent more personal growth in that frame.
Okay, so he’d written a young adult novel and it was obvious once someone else said it.
“Forever’s Too Long” just got its third 5-star review:
June 16, 2019
June 6, 2019
May 31, 2019
Come and check it out for yourself. You won’t be sorry.
Well, maybe you don’t ask. But now you want to know, because once you fall in love with a book, you want more like it.
Review it! Many online stores and book sites allow readers to post reviews. A person is more likely to take a chance on a book that 50 people say they loved than 5 people say they do.
Recommend it! Readers have friends who read, and you likely have an idea of their tastes. A recommendation makes a person more likely to find out more about an unknown book. Some authors, such as J.K. Rowling, got further by word of mouth recommendations and kids buying it for their friends, than by traditional marketing methods.
Gift it! I’ve been running a special– the book retails at $12 each, but I’ve been running a 2 for $20 special via direct sales. It encourages people to either buy an extra as a present for a friend or talk them into buying one too and splitting the savings. And I’d never ask this, but two of my buyers spontaneously paid extra, so that someone who wanted it but couldn’t afford it could have a copy.
Speaking of buying direct– when I purchase a crate of books and sell them directly to people at list price, I get more of a share than the royalties if you buy from retailers. I imagine it works the same way for other authors. So don’t think you’re shorting us if you want a signed copy.
You’re also not wasting our time if you contact us with questions or wanting to share your thoughts. Art is about communication, and as FUN as it is for me to write Rafael Jones, I’m not just doing it for myself. Hearing from readers is very motivational. There’s a button to send me an email, or just use the comment area. I love you so much just for being interested enough in my work to come here.
The first installment of “The Forever Detective” series is now available in Trade Paperback and E-Book formats
And the review are just starting to come in…
What a tense time. Will it sell? Will people review it? I know the book is good, but making a splash when there are so many forms of entertainment out there isn’t easy.
This is the part where the audience keeps the writer in suspense. But don’t worry, I’m good at waiting: in fact, I’ll start right now.
The wise-cracking, action detective is a bit of an archetype. What makes mine special,? Well, I thought it would be interesting if he was serious about music. Jazz helped define the era 1920-1940s, symbolizing moving away from formal traditions, opportunities for minorities and women to have their talents recognized, and a celebration of individuality. Raf’s love of jazz shapes who he is, lively and open-minded. As the years go on, he’ll be interacting with the music of different times, too, helping describe his relationship with the period. Another thing about Raf is that he mostly likes people. He’s no loner. His friends are an important part of his stories.
As for his friends, Eugene Marshall fits another archetype, the millionaire playboy. Except he’s both self-made *and* has autism symptoms. I didn’t want him to be obnoxious, so I looked for a way to make him a little vulnerable. The autism traits are taken from me. When Allan asked me, “Which of your characters are you most like: Rafael or Clara?” I had to say, “Honestly? Eugene.”
Analytical and smart, but naive and not great at filtering what should be said and what shouldn’t in the speed of a conversation.
World War Two brought out the strength in a lot of women. Agent Carter is a large part of the inspiration for Clara Thomas, but so are the real women of Bletchley Park, the WAVES, WACs and WASPS, and so on. But too often a strong woman is considered enough ‘development’. I thought it would be great if her strength came out of her weakness– she’d been an abused woman and had help getting herself together. Going on missions rebuilt her confidence in herself. Her strength isn’t an innate gift, but the result of fighting back and finding her power. I think that’s not just a good example, but a way to push back against the stereotype that abuse victims choose victimhood.