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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Four Novels Discounting to 99 Cents

Over the next four days a different title will be discounted to 99 cents for a week. The commonality of the novels is that they were all published by the small press Curiosity Quills.

First up July 18 will be Tortured Truths, the first in the Phillip McGuire series that I was inspired to write because of my admiration of John D. MacDonald and his Travis McGee series. You read that mystery/thriller series not so much for the story but because you wanted to hang out with Travis again. I was hoping to create that kind of character. Mine is a burnt out foreign correspondent who returns to his college town to buy and run a bar. Adventures come his way. In this first series we learn how his hand got mangled and how he coping with a mangled psyche. It’s not often you get to meet the person who tortured you, but Phil gets that opportunity.

On July 19 the second in the series, Heart Chants, goes to 99 cents. Two Navajo girls have gone missing from the local Indian college and Phil is asked to harbor a Navajo girl. He’s also met an interesting woman from China and the plot interweaves the two. Heart Chants contains, I believe, the best, most complete retelling of the Navajo creation story available in a work of fiction. Several Tony Hillerman fans have said they like my book better than Hillerman’s works, and that high praise.

(I’m at work on the third in the series and it’s off to a good start. I hope to complete it this fall.)

Next up will be SPILL on July 20. SPILL is a riot to read. Fired English teacher who has failed at about everything comes up with a scheme to run for his state legislature in his rock solid red city as a Democrat. He gets his enticing bartender to also run so there will be a primary. He runs as an atheist, anti-gun guy also calling for the nationalization of Big Oil. He theorizes that Big Oil and the NRA will donate to his opponent and they can split the money. Works better than he could have imagined. This was great fun to write and many readers have found it great fun to read.

Blow Up the Roses is the first book of mine Curiosity Quills published. It’s a very dark read and between SPILL and Roses you get a feel of the range of my fiction. Mrs. Keene lives on a cul d’sac where many terrible things are happening, including the disappearance of her own husband. But what her renter is doing in the basement of his side of the duplex is chilling. Several readers said they almost stopped reading, but felt compelled to continue. Goes to 99 cents on July 21 for seven days.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Very Quirky Tales at 99 Cents for a Week

Next up in this summer of discounting my works to 99 cents for seven days is a collection of quirky tales aptly titled Very Quirky Tales. Six stories are in this collection, each with a back story. Here they are:

During my binge reading of science fiction in high school I discovered Philip K. Dick, long before he became the mega star of the sci-fi genre. One thing I admired about his writing was how quickly he could snare a reader and keep them turning the page. Tell Us Everything is my homage to PKD, as he is known to his fans. Its main character was inspired by a pretty quirky bartender at my local watering hole.

I suppose most of us have had someone tell them that they saw a person that looks just like us. Sometimes we run into someone who does look like us. At one point in my life I was told I looked like Woody Allen and indeed when we went to New York I kept wondering why people were looking at me. It didn’t help when a friend who was traveling with us called out when our car to the airport arrived: “Woody! The limo’s here!” Anyway, I got to wondering what it would be like if you saw someone who did look like you, but the you when you were 30 years younger. It Was Me (I) is Very Twilight Zone-ish or something the Outer Limits may have done (which, if you haven’t seen, can be found on YouTube).

I went to the University of Kansas and once rented a house with several other people. My room was the windowed summer porch at the back of the house and in the hallway was the access pull down stairway to the attic. I really did store, for what reason I can’t remember, a notebook up there. Years later when I drove by the house I got to wondering if the notebook was still there. That prompted The Notebook. No reader yet as foretold its ending.

I don’t remember what piece of fiction I had finished but I remember I wanted to write something in a completely different style. H.P. Lovecraft was also an early favorite of mine. I loved the moods he was able to create and the dark, complicated situations in which his characters found themselves. We had just moved into the house were we still live here in Kansas City near Loose Park. There was a stately brick house near the park where a brother and sister lived. One night, the brother beat the sister to the proverbial bloody pulp. The paper reported at first appearances the brother sat at his bench banging his head against the back rest. That night he died in jail. Later the paper reported the results of the autopsy that he had died of “total system collapse,” a cause I had never seen before or since. The Strange Case of James Kirkland Pilley resulted. Facebook is full of HPL fans now and one reviewer said I had “out-Lovecrafted Lovecraft.” High praise.
Mormonism has always fascinated me. The founding story is so preposterous. Joseph Smith finds these golden tablets written in an unknown language but he is able to decipher them and create The Book of Mormon. And then the tablets are lost! How could anyone believe that? Yet thousands did and today more thousands do. I was thinking of trying to do a series of stories based on the idea that a group of people could buy a planet and emigrate en mass to it to set up a society strictly based on their beliefs. I wondered what such a world would then look like and A Match Made in Heaven resulted.

While working as Managing Editor at The Olathe (KS) Daily News I took an evening writing seminar at the University of Kansas from the classic and highly successful science fiction writer James Gunn. He was an excellent teacher. By Pain Possessed was written for that class and Gunn actually provided its ending sentence. One favorable reviewer noted how difficult it is to create a true alien and that I had done so.