Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Book Launch – Promotion Part II: The Novella And Me – Recent Work In The Shorter Form

I’ve been working on mystery novellas for a while now.  The Blue Dragon has just been released and there are plans for the sequel, The Black Tortoise, in 2017. The last two books in the Carly Paladino/Noah Lang series are also novellas — both easily read on a flight, say, from Boston to L.A.  Novellas are longer than short stories and shorter than novels

The Blue Dragon Peter Strand is a Chinese American private eye who “follows the money.”  As a forensic accountant, he’s especially qualified to solve crimes.  In this short tale, Strand, who speaks not a word of Chinese, is sent to Chinatown to calm tenants of a small apartment house in San Francisco’s Chinatown, where his P.R. assignment turns into a murder investigation. But it appears that at least one one of the tenants is the problem. It’s up to Strand to find out which one.

              Series: Rapid Reads
            Paperback: 168 pages ($9.95)
            Publisher: Raven Books, Orca
            ISBN-10: 1459809041
            ISBN-13: 978-1459809048

Death In The Haight  When Michael Vanderveer goes missing in San Francisco, Private Investigator Noah Lang assumes it’s just another runaway escaping to the Haight, San Francisco’s home to the displaced… until the homicide cops pays the P.I. a visit. Fifteen-year-old Michael has been implicated in the murder of a prostitute, and the police don’t want Lang’ search mucking up their investigation — especially Inspector Stern, who has strong opinions about Lang’s questionable past. But Lang becomes inextricably involved when he is hired by Michael’s parents: Their son is being ransomed, and they want Lang to ensure the exchange goes smoothly. As everyone waits for the kidnappers to make their next move, Lang struggles with the moral implications of rescuing Michael only to have to turn him in for murder. Then there is Stern, whose increasingly volatile behavior may just put Lang’s life in as grave danger as Michael’s. The Guilt Edge Mystery from Dutton is available in e-book form for $2.99.

            E-Book: $2.99
            Print Length: 93 pages
            Publisher: Dutton, Penguin Group (USA) LLC
            Language: English
            ASIN: B008ON3XLI

Mascara, Death in the Tenderloin — From the very beginning, things just aren’t what they seem. On a late, lonely night, San Francisco private investigator Noah Lang’s eyes deceive him. He makes a mistake. But what should have been simply an embarrassing moment becomes a deadly walk on the wild side. Unfortunately for Lang, before this nightmare is over, he puts his life on the line a second time for a new client who may or may not have a missing husband, who might or might not live on a boat in Tiburon and who seems to have an odd way to settle the bill for services rendered. This novella, a lively, tougher precursor to the San Francisco series, is available as an e-book and in paperback.

            E-Book: $3.99
            Publisher: Life, Death and Fog Books
            Publication Date: June 22, 2011
            Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
            Language: English
            ASIN: B0057P2D5S

            Paperback: 150 pages ($12.57)
            Publisher: Life, Death and Fog Books
            Language: English
            ISBN-10: 0615493564
            ISBN-13: 978-0615493565

These books were satisfying undertakings. I was especially pleased to find Rapid Reads from Orca. Because I admire the publisher’s mission to provide quality fiction and become a catalyst for new readership I was thrilled that my interest in this form of short fiction and the very direct way I write is a natural fit with this exciting and pioneering imprint.

If you find a story you want to read, find the book icon on the left column and click.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Book Covers And Other News

Occasionally I make the mistake of complimenting authors on the covers of their books.  I mean no harm.  It’s usually done with a feeling of kindly envy.  I love looking at book covers.  However the author usually had nothing to do with the cover.  He or she wrote the book, so the compliment is somewhat misplaced and could be seen as a slight to authors who see their own work judged by work they had nothing to do with.

Unfortunately in terms of time, the mind’s eye can take in cover art at a thousand to one ratio over its wordy content. And sadly the two (cover art and story) are not necessarily related – though they should be. In my next life, should I have the choice, I’ll be a visual artist. Meanwhile, I’ll try to hold my tongue unless I’ve read the book or I’m talking to the artist.

I like the idea that the book cover reflects the content of the book in mood and subject, but that is not the designer’s only concern. The designer, employed by the publisher, must also look to sales. What, in the sea of images will get potential readers’ attention and what will hook them into buying?

This is a challenge.  If you think about the tables and shelves in the bookstores and all the competing art and type and color, what stands out? They are all screaming, “look at me, look at me!” You pick one, and look closer.  Still interesting?  Can the cover art get you to the inside cover (flap) copy?  Beyond the cover design is the interior design. Does it invite you to read a couple of sentences? Does it make for a comfortable read? Typeface and leading (spacing) are important. Some readers and writers are unaware of all of this.  But a book is an object of art — in its totality, which is why many of us consider books more than just a good read, but also sacred keepsakes. 

As much as we like to deny it, a book is also a product. As a commercial enterprise, the design of a book has requirements similar to other products – a box of detergent, the label on a wine bottle (the bottle itself), or as Warhol knew, a can of soup. For best selling authors, their names are brands. Stephen King is Wheaties. And because of that, the cover design is secondary to the author’s name, which is likely to be the dominant graphic component.

Of the 18 books of mine that have been published, I have my favorite covers, as well as my favorite books. They are not necessarily the same.  One of my favorite covers appeared on an Italian translation. A couple of times I was allowed to pick the cover art.

But I’ve pushed my own books enough lately.  I’d like to show some of the many book covers that have made me kindly envious. A sampling of those covers are scattered about in this post.

For more, the blog “Rap Sheet” annually highlights the best in mystery covers in an on-line competition. I look forward to their 2015 posts. Also, Rap Sheet founder and editor J. Kingston Pierce hosts a separateblog featuring many older pulp covers as well – a comprehensive graphic history definitely worth checking out

Other News:
Severn House will release Killing Frost in trade paperback November 1. I hope bookstores will take notice.  Audible Books has just released Death in Pacific Heights on Audio. And finally, The Blue Dragon novella is now available as an E-book for 4.99. Not about me:  Two great mystery conferences happen this fall.  I’ve attended both in the past and highly recommend them.

October 30-November 1, 2015
The Columbia Club - Indianapolis, Indiana

This is a wonderful, intimate gathering of writers and readers.  Attendees are able to interact with authors, publishers and agents in this low-key, high-quality event.  Among the talented mystery writers in attendance are this year’s special guests, William Kent Krueger and Simon Brett.

October 8-11, 2015
Raleigh, North Carolina

This is big – the biggest crime fiction convention of the year.  Thousands show up for hundreds of events and panel discussions in a spirit of celebration. Many of the most popular crime writers as well as the most exciting emerging talents are on hand.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Book Launch, Part I — My New Book, The Blue Dragon, Released Today!


The Blue Dragon is the first book in a new series that is part of a new and innovative imprint for readers who, for different reasons, want good, quick and easy reads without giving up quality and substance. 

Orca Book Publishers’ Statement About Its Rapid Reads Series:

“In our increasingly fast-paced world we believe there is a need for well-written, well-told books that can be read in one sitting. Rapid Reads are short books for adult readers. They are intended for a diverse audience, including ESL students, reluctant readers, adults who struggle with literacy and anyone who wants a high-interest quick read. The Rapid Reads series includes titles by best-selling authors Gail Bowen, Reed Farrel Coleman and William Kowalski, among many others.”

Former Librarian’s Statement About The Rapid Reads Line And The Blue Dragon

”I heartily welcome this reading series to the fiction arena. Without a doubt, it fills a long-standing void. I also highly recommend The Blue Dragon as I believe it could open a rich dialogue during a book club discussion on diversity in neighborhood communities and an interesting discussion on how each person’s individual background sets the tone for their life journey. Series of this depth will also become a bridge to more challenging novels as readers progress in the development of their reading skills and grow in the discovery of the joy of reading.

I was lucky enough to receive an Advance Reading Copy of this title as an “Early Reviewer” from Library Thing.”    ‪✰ ‪✰ ‪✰ ‪✰

Author’s Statement About The Blue Dragon And The New Peter Strand series:

My new novella, The Blue Dragon is one of Orca Book Publisher’s Rapid Reads fall releases, and is the first in a San Francisco series that will also include The Black Tortoise in 2017.

The Blue Dragon — A murder at the Blue Dragon, a small apartment building in San Francisco’s Chinatown, prompts the absentee owner to hire Peter Strand to calm the anxious tenants. But Strand isn’t exactly what he appears to be. Neither are the tenants, who on the surface seem to be regular people going about their lives. Strand, a forensic accountant by trade, doesn’t intend to investigate the murder, but he soon realizes that this isn’t a gang-related killing, as the police believe. The murder was committed by one of the tenants. Finding out which one exposes the secrets of the Blue Dragon and brings Strand face-to-face with a few ghosts of his own.

The themes of identity and the difficulty of simply being human will remain a constant in the Peter Strand mysteries. My goal is to create short works that are accessible, entertaining and meaningful.

You can order The Blue Dragon through your local bookstore, library or on-line book retailer.

         Series: Rapid Reads
            Paperback: 168 pages
            Publisher: Raven Books, Orca
            ISBN-10: 1459809041

            ISBN-13: 978-1459809048