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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Two Novels Accepted by Curiosity Quills, But...

I am pumped that Curiosity Quills, the small press in the DC area that published the very dark/suspense work Blow Up the Roses has now accepted two more novels. But.

These two mystery/suspense novels feature the same protagonist: Philip McGuire. He is burnt-out foreign correspondent who had his hand mangled in torture by the Hezbollah and quits journalism to return to his college town to buy and run a bar. Adventures come his way.

The two works (may be more; I don't know) was a kind of homage to the Travis McGee series by John D. MacDonald. I read that series not so much for the story, but because it meant I got to spend more time with Travis. His reflections on life, his mini editorials, his romances were wonderfully created by the master. I was hoping readers would want to spend time with Philip.

The first novel, Heal My Heart So I May Cry establishes his background and gives him a situation where he ends up encountering the torturer who mangled his hand when he was kidnapped in Beirut and gave up all the details he knew of the Marine compound that was later blown up with the loss of 237 soldiers.

In this novel, he has a bittersweet romance with a university journalism student that has an O. Henry ending (boy, does that date me).

Here's a taste from the beginning:

The car stopped. The hood was taken off my head. My good hand was untied from the interior car door handle. The bright sun of Beirut blinded me. My pupils squeezed tight. My eyes adjusted a little by the time they had the back door open and were pulling me out of the car so I could look again at the face of that son-of-a-bitch, the one they called Mohammed, who had taken so much joy looking into my eyes while the cutter had done his work on my hand, the hand now wrapped in the dirty napkin as I held it high against my heart. I looked at that motherfucker's face and felt the hope that hate gives. The hope that I'd see that face again and have a fair chance to get even. Fuck that. Have an unfair chance. Have any chance to get even. You and me someday, Mohammed. Give me that, God, I prayed. But God hadn't answered any of my prayers lately. Maybe I'd be due someday.
In the second novel, a half-Navajo and half-white character who believes he is a witch plays a major role. He calls himself "Koyoteh" (coyote). Both novels are set in Lawrence, KS, which is home to Haskell, a college for American Indians. Two Navajo girls have come up missing. Researching the Navajo culture led me to their creation story, which is as complicated and fascinating as Greek mythology. I think, and hope, I have created a full retelling of that story that is better than any that exists in any fiction work. I titled this work "A Heart to Understand." To make this novel even more complicated, the romance in this novel involves an illegal Chinese immigrant trying to sneak out of the US to go back to China and with an ulterior motive for contacting Philip.

Here's a taste of that work:

"Another Indian girl's missing, Phil."
"That's two now, isn't it."
"In two months. No bodies found. Yet. Officially, it's another missing person's case. The police still take the attitude that Indian students from Haskell run off all the time. But Navajo aren't solo runaways. Being in a group is too important to them, especially girls."
"Both have been Navajo. Could just be the odds. Highest percentage of students at Haskell are Navajo. Both had friends, left behind too many personal possessions to be runaways. Got to be kidnappings. When I was in law school I did a summer internship in a law office in Gallup. Did a lot of reading into Navajo culture and Native American sovereignty rights. Word gets around. I began to represent Native Americans around here. Some of them came to me asking if I could help them make the police investigate more. But, hell, there's not much they can do unless a body turns up. Shitty thing, isn't it, hoping a body will turn up? They're all upset and angry. Not a good combination. The Navajo believe in this cause and effect deal. They don't like having these ugly effects without understanding or knowing the cause. I'm afraid it could be a serial killer with a thing for Indian girls. And one of my clients has a daughter whose Navajo girlfriend is really spooked. I've talked to her and I've got a favor to ask."
"What's that?"
"I'd like to hide her out here."
"Out here?"
"Sure. The kidnapper must be prowling the Haskell area. He wouldn't be prowling around here. And she's really shaken. Something going on she won't tell me about. And you could use the help now that you're laid up. How about it?"
"Well, sure. If that's what you want," I said as I watched him walk to the window on the other side of the room that looked out over the drive up to the house.
"That Chinese girl. You said she had really long hair?"
"Down to her butt. And we're talking a tall girl here."
"Really beautiful?"
"Stunning. Even features. Sexy mouth. Full lips. High brow. Why?"
"She's walking up to your front door."

Okay, here's that but.

Editor doesn't like the titles and urges me to change them to something more consistent with the genre of mystery/suspense. I have to admit my titles, Heal My Heart So I May Cry and A Heart to Understand sound more like romance novels. I have lived with these titles so long it has become very hard for me to brainstorm within myself for new ones. But I have also learned that a writer should heed an editor's suggestion.

Friends: any ideas?

Happy to share manuscripts with anyone really interested in all of this. Guess if you're reached the end of this long blog, you may well be!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Over-The-Top Reviews

Sometimes I worry that a review is over the top, and readers will think it's phony, like the reviews below. But I didn't pay for them. I didn't exchange reviews. I don't know these persons. These are the real reactions from readers who bought these books.

I could not put this book down. It was absolutely mesmerizing. First of all, I have a thing for books about loves that start in childhood, so it had me hooked right there. But also, this writer is just amazing. The way the language flows makes you want to keep reading. There is something very erotic in the story too, even though it was not cheap eroticism. I like that, when a book is sexy without overdoing it.

`Brilliant' and `original' are about how I would sum this sweet tale up. And I don't use those words (or 5 star ratings) without meaning it. Seventeen year old Brad lives on the grounds of an insane asylum with his sister and Dad. When Dad goes on a work trip, Brad has no idea that he will spend the week grappling with questions about sexuality, sanity and death. And some of the answers aren't pretty.

While the main character is a young adult, this is no kid's story! The tightly woven script is replete with humour, thrills, tension, mystery and the occasional flashes of inspired insights into the true definition of insanity that left me wondering if `normal' is really as normal as we like to think. There are a few infrequent slipups on grammar but nothing distracting. I would highly recommend this book.

And then this one, for

Monday, March 4, 2013

Current Listing of My Titles Now Available

Just completed an interview with a local paper and with it included a current list of the fiction works I have available now online. Good time to update my blog as well.

Asylum brats grow up on the grounds of mental hospitals where their parents work. Asylum brat Brad's week in 1964 that tests his sanity and grows him up faster than he could have ever wanted. Set at Larned (KS) State Hospital. $4.99

America has a pastor president, the states have pastor governors and they rule with a Bible in each fist. Set in 2084 in Topeka. Don't miss Stoning Fridays in Fred Phelps Plaza. $3.99

Fired English teacher scams the political system, runs for office on a platform to nationalize Big Oil, gets the girl, the money, and a killer skateboarder video game. $4.99

Stan Nelson, in his forties, is mired in nostalgia for the 1960s and the woman he lost then. He figures his only way out is to write about why he is so frozen. He creates in words the times and characters of then. $4.99

An Episcopal minister suffering from mid-life and mid-faith crisis gets involved in a phony kidnap plot with his sexy blond parishioner. $4.99

How much pain, horror, and anguish can one cul d'sac endure? Why is so much murder, mystery, and sexual brutality condensed among the few duplex homes built so close together on the Elm Street cul d'sac? The answers lie within the language of flowers; and the language of flowers can be brutally frank. They can also save your life. $4.99

This novella starts in 1954 and ends in 1994 as we meet and follow Greg through his three most important stages of his life and the girl he met in the fifth grade. $2.99

Kansas snowstorm forces a car of college students returning home for the holidays to take refuge in the hotel of a small town where they encounter a fellow traveler with a story to tell. $2.99

An H.P Lovecraft style tale of the horrors that surround the simple draining of a park pond and the modern day research that leads back to the Civil War. $2.99

The Mormons have left the Earth to populate the planet Moroni, finding their destiny among the stars and themselves. $2.99

Short Stories:
Alien invasion. Can the weakest human save us all? 99 cents

A short story about fusion: the mechanics of golf and the feelings of the soul. A lone golfer finds a new freedom during his best round ever. 99 cents

A tale of snooker on the Kansas Prairie. 99 cents

Contains three stories. Tell Us Everything in which a Goth girl uses her piercing to connect to the reality of the world and then, to the world's dismay, broadcasts those truths. It Was Me (I) in which a man look over at guy in the next car and sees that it is himself, not has he is today but as he was 20 years ago. Are there makeovers? The Notebook: Visiting professor stops by his old college apartment to see if the notebook he left in the house's attic might still be there. The truths he and the home's owner uncover will shock them both. $2.99

The best diet program is the one you don't remember taking. 99 cents

Print on Demand:

All the novels are available in paperback.
Two story collections are published:
One More Victim contains that story, The Saltness of Time, Blue Kansas Sky, Innocent Passage (not yet available ereaders), and Downswing.

Very Quirky Tales contains Tell Us Everything, It Was Me (I), The Notebook, The Strange Case of James Kirkland Pilley, A Match Made in Heaven, and By Pain Possessed.

All available through Amazon.