Monday, May 30, 2011

Reviews, Some Good, Some Bad.

c2011 (S)

Thank you maddy333 for the wonderfully-encouraging review of my short story, 'The Handbag's Tale,' in the U.K. Amazon store. I looked up 'noir' after reading your review!

This is Sally Bennett's lovely review of 'The Handbag's Tale,' now going for free on See sidebar! Thank you Sally, and I look forward to reading more of your reviews, and we might have a look at your books too! This review is one of several, to be found in the U.S. Kindle Store website.

Okay, the first two reviews were four star reviews, and here bumsonseats gave the story a one-star review on Goodreads.

Here's another one-star review, from Tammy Castleberry on the U.S. Amazon site. I honestly thought this was the first review I ever had, but I found another one today while building a 'works online page' for this blog. That's below.

It's here:

The Stud Farm, reviewed by Rod MacDonald on SFCrowsnest as part of a larger review of Jupiter #30, (the U.K. SF print magazine.) According to Rod, it's 'very well written.'

Thanks, Rod! That's what we want to hear, all right. Other than that, we take the bad with the good, roll with the punches and maybe even learn a thing or two along the way.

I love them hyper-links.

Apartment Hunting 101

c2011 (S)

The basic premise is that I need a place to live, one where I can smoke, have a cat and live comfortably. I need to be able to handle the cost on a fixed budget, and moving to another town to save a hundred bucks a month on rent makes no sense at all.

I say that because there is a nice one bedroom townhouse in Thedford, Ontario for a measly $490.00 month! That's about forty-five miles from here, much of it on two-lane secondary roads. (Whatever.)

Even so, I need to be able to ride my bike back and forth to my brother's place, and my sister's place, and things like that. It seems unlikely that I can keep my van on the road much past the end of summer when the insurance, license sticker and my own license come due.

In the free big-name online classifieds, there are 103 one-bedroom apartments available in the area, ranging from a low of about $450.00 a month plus utilities, to a high end range of over a thousand a month. Again, I don't want to move to Brigden, where they don't even have a grocery store, and all of the other cost/tranportation factors come into play. The 'one bedroom+den' page is blank even though the main page says five items are on it. Two bedrooms would be nice. One prime consideration is a ground floor unit, or a private/seaparate entrance. I say this because of the cat. I'm not giving up my cat! This also brings us to the question, (a five-hundred dollar qustion,) of getting him fixed so he doesn't spray.

So far I have eliminated ten or twelve of them with a quick drive-past.

I have a couple of small bills to pay, and it would sure be nice to get some groceries in here, just to keep me in a holding pattern for a bit longer. So I will essentially be fast-talking my way into a place with a one-month rent deposit, and hopefully that is considered the last month's rent, so then I can pay the first month's rent prior to move-in. The day before, in other words.

Then, all I need to worry about is security deposits on electricity, internet hook-up and maybe a phone, although phone and cable TV aren't my highest telecommunications priorities right now.

At some point, I need to get all my stuff, much of which is heavy and bulky, into my alleged new 'home.'

When I called the housing authority in April, I was told that my name won't come up for geared-to-income housing until September. Originally, I was told 'May or June,' but that's just my tough luck.

They also said, 'Let us know how to get in touch with you.'

I don't have time for you.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Excerpt: 'Redemption: an Inspector Gilles Maintenon mystery.'

'The House of Two Stone Dogs.'

c2011 (S)

Strong lightning flashed across the sky, splitting it asunder in jagged arcs of electrical fire.

Boughs of the dark larches surrounding the property wavered and began to whip back and forth.

Hard rain pelted down and a cold wind began to blow. The shutters began to bump gently back and forth, with long pauses, and then three or four quick beats.

Branches of a massive old oak tree, half of which was clearly dead, tapped against the window of an upper bedroom. The air crackled with promises long un-kept and the evening was alive with the sudden silence of the crickets.

A woman in a long, filmy white nightgown ran barefoot across the lawn. Pausing, she looked fearfully about her, clutching at her throat in anguish. Then, lowering her head against the darkening sky, she continued on around the corner of the hedge and disappeared as silently as she had come.

Standing on the rear porch with one eyebrow raised, Doctor Nagle nudged Maintenon and sucked hard on his empty pipe, a little globule of spittle burbling happily away in the bottom of it.

“Who in the hell was that?” he asked. “Are they all stark, raving, fewking mad around here?”

“The house of two stone dogs,” murmured Gilles, referring to the black-painted concrete figures mounted on top of the rough sandstone mass of the Manor’s gate posts. “Tell me about the Squire.”

“Oh, Gawd,” said the doctor.

And with that, as he lit up another of his infamously thin black cheroots, Gilles would have to be content.

Notes. The story is up to about 12,800 words. This except is only about 100 or so. I know what happened in the story, and so now I am kind of 'backfilling' the story with details. The plot will have to percolate a little longer. Then I will smash out a fairly incoherent ending, and then poke a lot of holes in some point it needs to sit, for a week, two weeks...whatever.

This one will go to maybe 15-20,000 words, I just don't know. But if I wanted a novel, then there is more time to throw in red herrings, more bizarre characters, more plot twists, more dead alleys, or if necessary, more bodies. A simple solution is to add more time to the plot, i.e more days or hours of activity by the characters.

The more things that happen, the more words in the story.

Update as of June 7/2012.

The 11,000-word short story that started all of this, 'The Handbag's Tale,' is available from Amazon here.

'Redemption: an Inspector Gilles Maintenon mystery,' is also available on Amazon, as well as Barnes & Noble, in the Sony eReader Store, and Diesel Books. It's also on iTunes, and in other fine bookstores. It's also available as a paperback from Amazon. I'm currently working on the second novel in the series, which is tentatively entitled, 'The Art of Murder,' this book is scheduled for release November 1, 2012, or just in time for Christmas.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Free Book Giveaway Results.

c2011 (S)

In the last three weeks we have given away about 6,185 copies of 'The Handbag's Tale,' an e-book from Shalako Publishing which is available on Smashwords, Lulu and Amazon US, UK and DE (Germany.)

At first the US was leading the UK by a ratio of about 3/2, but on the strength of three one-star reviews in the US outlet, the numbers started falling in the US, and then the UK leapt out in front on the basis of a four-star review in the UK store.

How the thing ever got up into the top twenty I'll never know, but presumably when a product is marked as 'free,' it has to pop out into the display stream. I think mine hit at prime time or something...? A few books went out the door and then the attention of Amazon's product-presentation algorythm was enough to keep it there long enough...okay, it's bullshit, but it's good bullshit. Right?

The story popped in and out of the top twenty in the UK store for a little less than three weeks, and it will probably hold #25 overnight, then continue to plummet from there.

What would 35% of $6,185.00 in less than a month actually look like? I don't know, (I'm sort of reluctant to do the math,) but I suspect I could live on it! (At least until I got used to it. Then, I'm not so sure.)

So far the book has garnered six reviews. Three ones and a four on Amazon US, a four on Amazon UK, and a one-star rating on Goodreads. Three ones and a four make for an average of 'two-stars,' then two stars and a four-star average out to a three-star rating, and a one star rating drops that to about...let's call it a 'two and a half' rating by legitimate customers. That's not too bad for our first outing with a promotional product in a whole new genre. (Actually, 12 stars in total divided by six reviews is an average two-star rating, but I like my math better.)

It's very encouraging, and of course I read the reviews. Of course I listen to the customers. It all comes into play when writing, developing, editing and revising the very next project. Which, incidentally, is another Inspector Maintenon mystery, this time a murder that happens when the Inspector is on vacation.

This allows me to peel away the sidekick, work on the character of Gilles Maintenon, and to experiment further with the detective genre.

One of the reviewers used the term 'noir,' and so I looked it up here.

This specifically refers to 'film noir,' where 'noir' in liteature generally refers more to the 'hardboiled' fiction, and I really don't see the story as anything other than sardonic or satirical. When I wrote it, it was meant to be a parody of Georges Simenon's 'Maigret' character, without being disrespectful to books that I liked when younger. The fact that I hadn't read one in years means it is not too faithful a parody, and that's okay too. Also bear in mind a parody doesn't necessarily have to be ribald comedy like 'Space Balls,' or just plain weird such as the legendary 'Apocalypse Now.'

Other than that, I'm happy to be learning how to use the Blogger hyperlinks. The sky is the limit now, ladies and gentlemen!

I tried a few times, couldn't get it to work, and so I went on to things that were easier or more rewarding.

It has been interesting.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Democracy, Irrational Angst, or What?

c2011 (S)

In a recent story, I read about how e-books have resulted in some irrational angst.

There is a problem of lack of ‘democratization’ in the sense that there are readers who don’t have access to reading devices. Some devices are upwards of $250 or $300, although I have seen a simple, $25 e-reader with only the most basic features. The obvious trend is towards increasing complexity.

In the major western markets, the low-cost readers are hardly a market factor, and I’ve seen little promotion of them. I don’t even promote them myself. But in emerging and developing markets, these readers, and the free and low-cost e-books available in a host of titles and languages really are a game-changer.

Just as the printing press destroyed the Church’s monopoly on learning and knowledge, it has also destroyed the typical authoritarian dictator’s monopoly on teaching. And he who controls the flow of information controls the high ground of the game-space, and therefore the battle.

There will be those who question the destruction of this monopoly, but then they have a great deal to lose. While librarians herald a new demand for books, and see the benefits, they also speak reverently of an older publishing model. This is understandable enough.

There is a great deal of information and misinformation out there on the subject of e-books in particular and publishing in general. There is also a fair amount of disinformation and just plain self-serving bullshit from interested parties.

Even Mighty Joe Konrath is looking backwards in anger rather than forwards in gratitude and eagerness. Much has been written about ‘anger’ amongst indie publishers. This is another kind of propaganda. But if, like me, you have never had a ‘legacy’ publisher, have never had a ‘real’ book published, then comparing yourself to Mr. Konrath and his coterie of disgruntled mid-list authors, all of whom are being ‘ripped off’ by their former publishers, then you may wonder what the fuss is all about. I have no reason for anger! I’ve had contracts offered to me. I didn’t sign them because I wasn’t sure I could fulfill my side of the bargain in a totally professional way.

If you are not sure you can live up to the terms of a contract, one of which would involve promotion, public appearances, and yes, Virginia, ‘being nice to everyone,’ then maybe you shouldn’t sign it. But I don’t know if I can handle that sort of a life, and I don’t want to try and be something or someone that I am not.


Librarians have a lot of power in their own way—they prefer silence, they can revoke your library card, and they get to decide what books people can borrow for free. They dispose of a rather large budget when it comes to book-buying season.

Traditional publishers have invested a lot of time and effort in the relationships they have with librarians, just as they have with booksellers, reviewers, and the readers as well.

Will e-books change all of that? I say yes, because in the long run no one can justify paying ten or twenty times too much for a whole bunch of books, year in and year out.

Want to kill the library? Tell the government that mostly poor people use it, in the rather forlorn hopes of building better lives for themselves and their children.

They’ll kill it, rather than learn how to run it efficiently.

At some point, the justification starts to run a little thin. I can put every book my library has on my hard drive. They will all fit there.

At some point, people will try and stop us from doing it or even talking about it, in the name of ‘the curation of knowledge and the free dissemination of ideas,’ because we are ‘killing the book,’ which in their eyes is somehow ‘sacred.’

Not all books are sacred. I can assure the reader that mine aren’t. Mine are just a lot of fun.

The library of the future will look a lot like any website where books are sold in electronic form. The reader will log on to ‘’ or whatever. They will have a ‘username,’ and a ‘pin number,’ and it will be just like Amazon, Lulu, Smashwords or a thousand other e-book sites. Only it will be free and run for the benefit of the public. At some point, ‘legitimate stake-holders,’ i.e., the rapidly-converting traditional publishers will have their $18.99 e-books all set to go and then we can get on with the ‘revolution,’ which they have led right from the beginning, due to their love of literature, the arts, baseball, mom, God and apple pie.

This is not anger, it is the voice of experience, earned after years of observing cradle to the grave corporate welfare in this country, and yours, too.


In elementary school, when we aced the standardized English tests, another boy called Phillip and I were excused English classes. We were sort of consigned to the library, where we played with rolls of tape and rulers in a primitive kind of air-hockey. In college, the library was a wonderful place to study and do research. For many years, I went to the city library on a weekly basis and borrowed armloads of books. For many years, our local library had the civic art collection in a room upstairs, and I did in fact go there once or twice and look at the works.

Gwyn Dyer came to the library. He spoke in the auditorium and I wrote a story on it for the college paper, The Lambton Leader. I attend Genrecon every spring, and Mr. Jeffrey Beeler, my friend and colleague on Facebook, sits right there every day behind the resource counter. For a few years, I used to go there and get the writer’s guides, and sit at a table, and write with a pen in a steno pad. I wrote down the names, addresses, etc, of places to submit stories and books to.

I borrowed a hundred and fifty books while doing research for ‘Heaven Is Too Far Away,’ available as an e-book from…here:

Please don’t think I don’t appreciate my local library and all that it has done for me.

At its best, a library performs an important social function. It is the opinion of this writer that if libraries are to survive in useful or even merely a recognizable form, they need to become a nexus, a hub of some kind of larger, local information network. An electronic network. Rather than being out of the loop by choice.

Incidentally, the local paper published a story, the gist of which was, ‘E-Books the next big thing,’ but that may have just been wire-copy from the national bureau.

They have ignored my press releases! They're engaged in big cost savings measures—they pulled the presses and all local papers are done in another town. I’m sorry, did the self-published electronic papers, ‘kill the family newspaper?’

That’s too bad, but you’re a big corporation. What does that have to do with you?

Self-publishing authors are not ‘destroying the library’ any more than they are 'killing the book.' It is the cost of one that is ‘killing the book.’ I was going to publish with a local printer, but then I got interested in e-books. E-Books represent a far more efficient business model than a hundred paperbacks from a local printer, who would have admittedly done a beautiful job on them. I’ve seen the work.

With a hundred paperbacks, I would have had zero chance of success. Explain it any different if you can. With e-books, my chances of success are infinitely better than that.

This is democratization, because I simply could not afford to spend $1,000 on printing books when I’m on a very small fixed income.

If ‘bad books’ are being published in profusion, then they will fail in profusion.

This is true of POD, local printing, traditional big box publishing, or self-published e-books. When you consider exactly how many people are in a library at any given time, it is actually an inefficient building—the space is taken up by all of those books and shelves. That will all be gone in just a few years, and no one is going to thank me for saying it first.

Click here for my website:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Finding Time.


When I first started on the road to professional success, a long and dusty trail, I was basically using the internet to seek out new markets, send e-mails back and forth, and for research. I wasn't on any social platforms or networks at the time.

Even then, I had some sort of routine. At first, I had to promise myself to check the e-mail inbox at about the same time every night--say about ten p.m., and that way if anything should require attention, I had time to think about it, and I coould do whatever needed to be done. And I could send it off or submit it the next morning.

All very businesslike. Now that I am engaged on numerous social platforms, I need to keep track of notifications, account passwords, and I literally keep a list of the places I am on. Seriously. I even make notes of new social networks when I hear about them. I don't always sign up, but I check them out.

Once fully engaged, it is easy to get too involved in discussions, posting and re-posting links, watching out for hot leads and new markets, meeting all the new people and learning something about each and every one of them.

The question of course, is when do you find the time to write at all?

Under a previous business model, an author might spend an average of two years writing a book and bringing it to the shelves on day one. The promotional efforts would go on for weeks or months. The more successful the book; the longer the promotion, a notion Stalin was not unfamiliar with. He would allocate resources to the most successful generals, and woe to the unsuccessful ones, who would either be annihilated by the enemy, or shot by their own side for their failures.

Like Stalin, no one wants to throw bad money after good. And time is money.

I'm lucky to be able to work at this full time, without having to balance a lot of distractions and demands.

So far this week, I've written over 11,000 words on my major new detective story, which may end up as a novella or novelette. I've also mown the lawn and did a little bit of shopping.

If the searing orb of the sun would come out, I would go for a bike ride.

It's a matter of maintaining a balance; otherwise you fall off the bike.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Writing and Marketing Conficts?


My current work in progress is up to 10,830 words. If it gets too long that will eliminate at least one major market that I can think of, just off the top of my head.

Since I haven't been writing a lot of mysteries, my knowledge is pretty limited, but it seems clear that the longer it gets, the more potential markets will be eliminated.

Fair enough, either write to length or pick a shorter project! While there is no real angst here, I really wasn't thinking of doing a novel. My novels tend to go to the full 100,000 words sort of thing, and maybe I should try thinking in 40,000 to 50,000 word terms.

The thing as it now stands seems pretty barren in some places, just a lot of drawing-room talk without much action, car chases and such like that. Yet in other places its lush--maybe lush bordering on purple prose. While a parody might have some place for that, the readers need to know that it is a parody, (or satire, or opera bouffe,) otherwise they don't know what to think.

If I honestly thought I could wrap this up in another 1,170 words and get a 12,000 word story, I would do it in a heartbeat. The only saving grace is that I can ultimately publish it myself, as an Amazon short maybe, or as part of a book-length collection, or just go and search for some mystery anthologies.

No need to panic. Just write the thing to some sort of logical conclusion, based upon the facts as presented so far, and then let it sit for a while. Polish the snot out of it, and you got something.

Editor's Note: We don't have a clue what 'opera bouffe' means, but it sure sounds cool.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Promotion Successful.


Over the last ten or eleven days, we have given away over 4,900 copies of 'The Handbag's Tale,' a sardonic murder mystery set in Paris, at the height of the Roaring '20s.

I wrote it specifically as a promotional item, not being ready to tackle what would (or could) be my first detective novel. At that time, I was really more interested in science fiction.

It's available right now for the investment of two minutes time from Amazon.

At 11,000 words, the story took me a couple of weeks to write, and I submitted it around a little before deciding to publish it myself according to my 'everything for free' business model.

Necessity is very often the mother of invention and in my own case this is certainly true. What surprised me, was when I found that invention was the mother of virtue! But then I have a strong interest in making it work.

Later tonight or early tomorrow morning, the 5,000th free copy will go out the door, and I suppose someone will have to make a decision whether to put a price on it, or shoot for 10,000 free copies.

I say this because I am presently working on another Inspector Maintenon story, this time set in southwestern England circa 1926 or '27. It's called, 'Maintenon Gets a Vacation,' and he's on a walking tour of the moors when he stumbles across a murder.

This one has a double-whammy of a twist at the end.

I wish I could claim some credit for all of this promotional success, but Amazon lowered the price in a simple price-matching move because I was giving away free copies on Smashwords, one of my other platforms.

During e-book week, I worked my butt off to give away 130 e-books on Smashwords. Imagine my surprise to open up my account and discover that I had given away 1,700 e-books in my sleep.

There are no accidents, or so they say. I sure wish I knew how that happened; but what I did before, I can do again. Who knows, I might even be able to sell them for a buck or something.

You never really know until you try.

Note: the 'everything for free' business model controls overhead very nicely and that is what allows us to keep our prices low while maintaining the highest literary standards.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Excerpt: 'The Aviator.'


Note: 'The Aviator' is a small piece of a larger work in progress and is subject to further review.

Cold wind blasted at his face, the stench of petrol ever present. Thoughts of fire danced in his head.

Looking over the side, the village of Bevan’s Knoll passed under his wheels. Huddled in his cockpit against the icy chill, inscrutable in the helmet, mask and goggles, the beauty of the land below, darkened in irregular blotches by patches of cloud, a low mist still hanging in some of the valleys, meant nothing to him.

The clock on the instrument panel mocked his every desire, and reinforced his every terror. If only she knew what he knew, she would never forgive him. But for her, he had sacrificed everything, and it still wasn’t his fault.

It wasn’t his fault and he didn’t want to pay the price. White knuckles gripped the control column, and his head swung on a pivot, dark eyes probing everything in rapier-sharp focus. He had no choice in the matter.

The fearful burden that he bore must go with him to his grave, for surely the truth, a truth so obvious, would never be accepted. It would never be accepted of him, never in a thousand years. One little lie to get somewhere in life, and it had led him to this inescapable moment in time. The barrier looming ahead made his lower guts tighten up in anticipation. Heavy straps tugging at his body in the sudden turbulence gave little reassurance.

The white fog obscured all vision and even dulled the sound of the motor. Rarely for him, the tension rose a thousand-fold, but this was different. There was no going back now. He stared at the turn-and-bank indicator in fixed concentration. What people said was absolutely right—there was just no way to tell if you were in straight and level flight inside of the cloud, or if you were in a one-way, one-gravity death spiral, with the cold and indifferent earth rising up to meet you. If the instruments had shaken, or tumbled, or gone off in any way, he felt he might have given up and died by choice…but they were serene in their confidence to measure simple forces.

The parachute bulging so uncomfortably under him was of no comfort at all. The thought of using it for anything other than an emergency, a fire in the air perhaps, terrified him.

People also said you couldn’t really tell the difference between vertigo and sheer horror. They said it was a kind of physical, totally-detached temporary insanity, where the whole world was spinning on you. In his experience, people said an awful lot of stupid things.

Normally a very confident young man, he was finding out that this one was true as well.

Perhaps it would be just as well if he did lose control. He could at least die with some dignity and his honour intact.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fifteen Minutes of Fame.


On Sunday, I got an e-mail notification that Amazon had dropped the price of 'The Handbag's tale,' a highly-satirical short story involving the murder of portly playboy banker Emile Danton in Paris, 1924.

That was because I was giving the book away on Smashwords and they have a price matching policy.

Okay, that's fine, but on Sunday night my computer went down. Somehow I turned off the POP settings or something incredibly stupid like that...imagine my surprise to open up my account Tuesday morning and see that I had given away about 1,700 copies at that point.

The reader may imagine what I was thinking: 1,700 x $1.00 - 35%, right?

But then I decided to let it ride. That was because a quick calculation showed that I was giving away 400 copies per day, and that is an achievement in anyone's book.

Right now we stand at about 3,800 copies and it's only Saturday night. But I am wondering if I can give away 5,000 copies of 'The Handbag's Tale,' in one week.

Right now it's at #19 in the Amazon UK Kindle Store, under the site's free crime>thrillers>mystery category, and at #63 on the overall free fiction list in Amazon UK. This has actually dropped down from #15 and #41 respectively just yesterday.

Also, the book is at #272 in the US Amazon Kindle free fiction rankings, down from a high of #251 observed yesterday or this morning. As you can imagine in the cyber-world of e-comemrce, the ranks are pretty fluid, changing even over the course of an hour.

The temptation to meddle and to extend my fifteen minutes of fame is admittedly there, but after not having my computer for a week or so, it's almost like I need retraining...I don't even really know what to do next.

Hopefully I will think of something.

Rankings: Boom or Bust


My computer blew up last Sunday night, which was a little bit traumatic. I went to my sister's house on Tuesday, just to check my e-mails. Going to my Kindle Digital Text Platform dashboard, I started clicking around and was startled to see that I had given away quite a few copies of 'The Handbag's Tale,' an 11,000 word short story featuring Inspector Maintenon and a murdered banker.

'Murder at its most French,' as I am calling it. 'Murder at its most sardonic.'

That price change only took effect Sunday or Monday and they were just flying off of the shelves!

Right now, (Saturday, May 14, 2:30 a.m.,) that book stands at #15 on the Amazon UK Free E-Books Crime>Thrillers>Mystery rankings, and is #45 in the UK Free Store. It stands at #256 in the US Free Kindle Store, and I watched it drop five places in the space of five minutes...interesting feeling.

In less than a week, I have given away over 3,500 e-books on Amazon US and UK.

Just to put all this in perspective, I worked my, er; 'butox' off during e-book week (Mar 5-12,) on Smashwords, and gave away a total of 130 copies of my five titles. Since my computer was out of service this week, I only used a borrowed machine for an hour a day, and put out on Twitter and Facebook no more than half a dozen links at best. They were not all for this title.

Also to put this in perspective, my best selling title is 'Heaven Is Too Far Away,' which now stands at around #55,000 in the Amazon UK store.

What's the big difference between the two books? About a buck, or approximately 0.71 Great Britain Pounds last time I checked. Some of my other titles are down in the three hundred thousand rankings! But down at that level, all you have to do is to sell two books and you rocket up the charts into the low two hundred thousands.

Have a pleasant morning, or evening, or day, or whatever.

(It's not like we don't earn it.)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A New Project Makes Me Happy


I have a new project and that makes me happy.

Because it was so much fun to write 'The Handbag's Tale,' my first detective story, and because I like detective or mystery stories, and because there is a market, I was definitely interested in doing more of them.

As far as story length, that really doesn't matter. If it's not a novel, so much the better. That's because the short-term marketing strategy is to submit it. If I can place the story somewhere, make some money and gain some new readers, that's fine.

The story is 'maintenon gets a vacation,' and Inspector Gilles Maintenon is on a walking tour of the moors in southwestern England because as a boy he read a lot of Serlock Holmes...and then of course there is a murder and he gets to solve it.

The whole thing revolves around a mysterious missing aircraft and one dead pilot who just happens (or happened) to be under consideration for an international seaplane racing team.

As usual in a Maintenon story, there are plenty of twists and turns, and surprising characters that say the damnedest things.

Luckily, I already know whodunit! In the first Maintenon story, I had to write it to find out.

The really great thing about writing the same character is of course marketing. With a half a dozen short mysteries featuring Inspector Maintenon, I can package them up in collections, publish them as Amazon 'shorts,' or when I develop some more relevant skills, develop it into a TV pilot/proposal.

It is nice to take a break from the incessant round of social networking and sales/marketing, and do some actual work for a change.

Gilles hasn't actually said this yet, but I suspect he will before the end of the story:

'A change is as good as a vacation.'

And now if the reader will forgive me, I must rejoin Maintenon and a certain Esther Phelps, a tall, athletic, brown-haired woman in her late thirties or early forties. They're at a remote farmhouse on the verge of Exmoor, and Jimmy is about to arrive on his sidecar-motorcycle and break the news...a lady down the road has a body in the parlour and would the nice inspector like to come and have a look at it?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

New Post: Cycling is Therapeutic.


I injured my right knee back in August of 2009. I did it swimming, which shouldn't be possible, at least for a fit or even a slightly younger person. A normal flutter kick shouldn't do that to you. It might have something to do with my doggy-paddling style, a sort of one-armed stroke designed to keep my smoke up out of the water.

With a few weeks of downtime, and autumn fast approaching, I didn't get too many kilometres of cycling in that year.

I never walk farther than about a kilometre, incidentally.

Along rolls 2010 and I was re-writing my first two novels, editing, reading, learning social networking, and editing...I've been in this chair pretty much continously for about a year and a half. That is to say when I wasn't sleeping, or eating, or taking a shower. Shoveling snow. You get the idea.

So last year, instead of cycling two or three thousand kilometres over the summer, it was more like...I don't know, maybe 600 k's all year.

Today I took my second bike ride of the season. I wore two shirts and two sweaters. The first couple of kilometres did hurt my right knee. My upper back and shoulders, my arms, my elbows, my lower back and everything else.

After a while the pain went away and my wind wasn't as bad as I expected. The upper legs burn of course.

I felt eager. I really didn't put much power to it, but the right knee felt okay. I only went about five kilometres, and it was a nice spring day. 'No worries.'

It's not a matter of 'owing it to myself' or anything like that. My right foot is numb half the time and I now walk with a very distinct limp...this is a new thing for me and I don't like it very much. I need a new office chair something fierce.

Cycling is a necessity after all this time at my desk. In my opinion, my productivity and creativity will actually improve. Summer is for the living.

Cycling is for me.