Monday, 18 May 2015

An Interview with Craig Johnson

Craig Johnson, the creator of the Longmire novels on which the popular television series Longmire is based, has published a new  novel, Dry Bones. If you're not familiar with the character, he's a Wyoming sheriff who is dedicated to his job and dogged in his pursuit of justice for those who are victims of crime.

In Johnson's latest book, the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex is discovered on the property of a Cheyenne rancher, who becomes the murder victim. Not only must Longmire uncover the killer, but he must also deal with the politics of the number of groups--including the rancher's family, the tribe, and the federal government--who are claiming ownership of the skeleton.

Kirkus Review has posted a television interview with Craig Johnson, who talks about his life as a rancher, his use of newspaper articles from Wyoming and nearby states as inspiration for the Longmire stories so that they're firmly grounded in reality, and his enjoyment of book tours where he can meet with his fans and discover what they like (or don't like) about his novels.

To listen to this interview, please click here.

Monday, 11 May 2015

The Plaid Raccoon Press Turns Four!

Today, May 11, marks the fourth anniversary of the Plaid Raccoon Press!

Four years ago today the province of Ontario, in its infinite wisdom, issued a business license to this saucy little Canadian procyonid and turned him loose on the world to publish crime fiction and supernatural fiction. Goodness knows, my living room hasn't looked the same since.

As with all anniversaries, it's a time to glance back down the winding gravel road we've been mooching along in search of entertaining stories, modest revenue, and a chance to tweak the bill of the annoying Random Penguin and his ilk whenever possible. Hard to believe we've published four novels in the Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel series, a supernatural thriller (The Ghost Man), and Sorrow Lake, the first March and Walker Crime Novel, as well as Lynn L. Clark's debut work, The Home Child in such a short time span. Seven publications in four years! Not bad for a little ring-tailed scamp who'd rather be off raiding someone's corn crib or catching trout in the stream out back.

Of course, being an independent author has its down side. Can't get mainstream media outlets to review my novels. The largest bookstore chain in the country won't stock them on their shelves or list the paperbacks in their database. Not eligible for government grants because I don't fit their definition of a professional author.

It is what it is, right?

On the up side, my fourth Donaghue and Stainer novel, The Rainy Day Killer, was longlisted for the 2014 Arthur Ellis Award for best crime novel in Canada, placing ahead of submissions by Margaret Atwood, Linwood Barclay, Louise Penny et al.

I get fan mail from people who've read one of my books and were sufficiently pleased by it to write me an e-mail to let me know.

I meet people at art festivals and craft shows who bought one of my books the last time I was there and have come back for another.

So never mind the disdainful newspaper editors, the elusive agents, and all the other professionals in the industry who consider independent authors such as myself to be a pox upon their house. For each one of you, I have ten who've actually read one of my novels and go out of their way to tell me they can't wait for the next one.

THAT's what it's all about, folks. 

So today we're blowing out the candles on our anniversary fishcake and making a wish for the future.

Hard to believe the Raccoon is already four. He keeps crossing the road on his way to that cornfield on the other side, and he's still fast enough to get out of the way of the trucks before they blast him into next week. Seven books in four years, and two more to come before he turns five!

And as I always say -- there's nothing else I'd rather be doing!

P.S. Don't miss this opportunity to check out our newly revamped website. The Raccoon is very proud of it, and he suggests you peek into the new webstore before you leave!!!  

Monday, 27 April 2015

SORROW LAKE - The Video Teaser

The Plaid Raccoon Press is pleased to present the official video teaser for Sorrow Lake, the first March and Walker Crime Novel.

Video sequences were shot in the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, giving it a local look and feel. The novel is set in Leeds County, and I live in neighboring Grenville County.

Additional photography is licensed courtesy of Thinkstock Images, and the music, "Atmospherics Peds," by Themusicase, is provided by CyberLink. The teaser was produced using Cyberlink's PowerDirector 13.

Enough chatter! Here it is:

Monday, 20 April 2015

SORROW LAKE - Who Got Killed?

Photo (c) Michael J. McCann
Every murder mystery has a victim.

Learning the identity of the victim is one of the first tasks taken on by our literary homicide investigators, as it is in real life. As John Douglas, the famous FBI profiler, explained in The Anatomy of Motive, understanding the victim is the key to understanding the motive, and once the motive is clear the detective will be that much closer to knowing the identity of the killer.

Victimology is a critical part of the investigation. Knowing the victim's activities before the murder and the relationships between the victim and the people around him help detectives understand who or what may have placed him in harm's way.

In Sorrow Lake, the first March and Walker Crime Novel, the victim is William Hansen, born October 21, 1957. A resident of the village of Sparrow Lake, Ontario, he ran his own business, a car wholesaling operation. He had a wife, Vivian, but no children. As Detective Inspector Ellie March and Detective Constable Kevin Walker move forward in the preliminary stages of the case, they discover that Bill Hansen's life revolved around his business, his cars, and his network of buyers, sellers, and drivers. He and his wife had no relatives in the area and no close friends.

While a search warrant is being executed in the victim's home by the forensics team under the watchful eye of Kevin Walker, Ellie spends time in other parts of the house by herself. "She was here because she wanted to get a sense of the victim and his wife. There were many unanswered questions" (Sorrow Lake, p. 70). Later, she gathers the team to reconstruct the time line of Bill Hansen's last day. "The final day of his life. Hour by hour, minute by minute, if necessary. Somewhere in the last twelve to fourteen hours of Bill Hansen's life they would find the event that would connect him to his killer" (Sorrow Lake, p. 210).

Did Ellie and her team succeed? Download a free review copy of Sorrow Lake from NetGalley and find out for yourself!

Monday, 13 April 2015

SORROW LAKE - How does the story begin?

In previous posts we've talked about the Canadian setting of Sorrow Lake, about the two main characters in the series, and early reviews of the novel.

Oh, and don't forget, you can still get your free review ARC from NetGalley by following this link

It's time now for a sneak peek at the story itself, to whet the appetite. And what better place to choose than the beginning? So, without further ado.......

chapter ONE

      His breath visible in the early morning air, Detective Constable Kevin Walker made his way down the hill and across the farmer’s field toward the body. There was a crust on the snow from freezing rain that had fallen two days ago, and his boots punched crisp holes as he followed the footprints of the old man who’d spotted something in the middle of his field just after dawn and had come down to investigate.
      As he walked, Kevin kept his eyes moving across the snow, alert for anything out of the ordinary. Other than two sets of tracks, one belonging to the farmer and the other to Ontario Provincial Police Constable Bonnie Charles, the first responder to the scene, the surface of the snow was pristine. He reached the little circle of footprints where the farmer had staggered back and retched, he saw the spilled coffee and the cup the old man had dropped in his shock, and then he stopped.
      Close enough.
      The victim was a man in his fifties. He wore inadequate lowcut boots, grey trousers, and a tweed car coat. No gloves. No hat. The back of his neck was seared where a close-contact gunshot had passed through the base of his skull and out the front of his neck, leaving a frozen bloodstain on the surface of the snow. His face was turned slightly toward Kevin. The eyes were open and lifeless. The mouth was a frozen oval.
      Kevin recognized him. He lived in the village, not two blocks from Kevin’s house.
      He found it difficult to stop looking at the eyes. They had a disturbing cloudiness to them that made him feel uneasy. Kevin had participated in sudden death call outs before and so it wasn’t his first body, but it was the first that was an obvious and violent homicide. The blood, the stains on the trousers, and the cloudy, lifeless eyes were upsetting. He forced himself to stand there, taking in all the details, until he no longer felt repulsed.
      He heard the sound of tires crunching in the farmer’s driveway at the top of the hill and, turning, saw the EMS ambulance arrive. Members of the Sparrow Lake volunteer fire department, they were, like Kevin, residents of Yonge Township, a strip of 128 square kilometres jutting north from the St. Lawrence River between Brockville and Kingston. He watched Constable Charles point the way down the hill, waving her arm to make it clear that they should avoid the farmer’s footprints and follow Kevin’s down the snowy slope.
      As they edged their way toward him, he turned his eyes to the distant line of trees rimming the back of the field. A mixture of evergreen and bare-limbed deciduous, they were white with ice that had formed when the temperature had dropped below freezing again, the night before last. It made a picturesque tableau against the blue morning sky. A crow called out somewhere within the forest. Running his eyes along the tree line, Kevin saw nothing unusual. A second, distant crow answered the first. There was no visible disturbance in the snow between the body and the back of the field.
      Somewhere in that stretch, however, would be the expended round that had killed the victim when it ripped through his neck.
      He turned and looked at the footprints leading from the road to the body and back to the road again. Two sets coming in and one set returning to the road.
      A one-way trip for the victim and a return trip for his killer.
      “Another cold morning, Kevin,” one of the paramedics called out, by way of greeting. Behind him, his partner cursed as his boot rolled over a frozen clot of soil beneath the snow.
      Kevin held up a hand. “Just you, Philip. Come up beside me.”
     The paramedic shifted his equipment bag from one hand to the other and edged forward until he stood next to Kevin. He crouched, resting his bag on the snow, and swore. Behind them, his partner made a coughing sound and turned away. Philip studied the victim for a moment, then stood up and looked at the detective.
     “Obviously dead,” Kevin said.
     “Obviously dead,” Philip agreed. These two words, quoted from the Ministry of Health’s Deceased Patient Standard, obligated him not to touch the body unless directed to do so by the coroner. He turned to his partner. “Let’s get out of here, Dan. We’ll wait for Dalca in the truck.”
      As they hurried back up the hill, they passed Constable Charles, who was talking into her shoulder microphone as she walked down. She took a long look at the body for the second time this morning before making eye contact with Kevin. “The road’s blocked off between Ballycanoe Road and Junetown Road. Everyone’s being advised to approach from the north. We’re setting up the inner perimeters now. You said to use Mr. Lackey’s yard as the command post, right?”
      “Yeah.” The old man, Jerry Lackey, kept his yard well-plowed between his house and outbuildings, and it was large enough for a staging area that would accommodate all the respondents to the scene.
      Kevin watched Charles depart, issuing instructions into her shoulder mike, then pulled off his gloves and used his smart phone to take a few photographs of the body. He brought out his notebook and drew a rough sketch of the scene, made a few notes, then slipped it back into his jacket pocket, put on his gloves, and trudged back up the hill.

If you enjoyed this excerpt, why not download a free review copy of the novel now, while it's still available? NetGalley is free to join and offers you a wide variety of Advance Reading Copies of the hottest books before they hit the shelves-- books like Sorrow Lake! Just click here:

Monday, 6 April 2015

SORROW LAKE - Early Returns on the ARC Review Process

As you may know, the Advance Reading Copy of Sorrow Lake, the first March and Walker Crime Novel, is now available for review through NetGalley. If you're not a NetGalley account holder and would like access, it's free to sign up and free to download a copy of Sorrow Lake. Not a bad deal, right?

If you're interested, click on the cover image on the left, or on the link below. It will take you to a special sign-in page authorizing your free copy.

Not sure if you'd be interested in a crime novel set in Canada featuring homicide investigators from the Ontario Provincial Police? Take a look at the early response to the novel by NetGalley reviewers:

Blogger Mallory wrote: "A really inventive and deeply-characterized mystery/police procedural with a finely-delineated background of rural Ontario, SORROW LAKE is the first of a series, which I can tell will be one of my favorites. The characters are peeled down to the grain, and it's wonderfully gratifying to read of individuals who might be our friends, our neighbors--or even ourselves."  This review has also been posted on Amazon and in Goodreads, for which I'm very grateful.

Librarian Rosemary wrote: "I am thrilled that this is the beginning of a new series. McCann is a new author that I will now be following. And who doesn’t love the name of that publisher?" This review is also posted in Goodreads. Needless to say, the Raccoon is blushing and will probably have a swelled head for a while.

Reviewer Tracy wrote: "An exciting Canadian police procedural mystery that had me hooked from the very first page. A great strong female lead and a nice male counterpart just learning the ropes of homicide. Twists and turns I never saw coming especially leading up to the ending. I would and will recommend this book to friends and family, even strangers should the time and place present itself." Tracy also posted this review in Goodreads. Thank you, Tracy.

I'm also pleased to note that the voting on the cover design is going nicely. NetGalley viewers have so far given it 17 thumbs-up and 0 thumbs down. Thanks!

Now it's your turn, faithful followers of The Overnight Bestseller. Click on this link to find out for yourself why Sorrow Lake is going to make a lot of noise for Canadian crime fiction in 2015!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

SORROW LAKE - Advance Reading Copy Now Available


The Plaid Raccoon Press is pleased to announce that the Advance Reading Copy of the new Canadian crime novel Sorrow Lake is now available.

The ARC is available in e-book format through NetGalley, the online service that allows all publishers, large and small, to distribute review copies of new books to reviewers.

If you would like an e-book copy of Sorrow Lake, simply click on the cover image on the left or on the link below. If you have a NetGalley account, simply sign in and you will be taken directly to the Sorrow Lake page, where you may download a copy. It's available in .epub, .mobi, and .pdf formats.

If you don't have a NetGalley account, you can register with them free of charge. There's also no charge, of course, for downloading a review copy of Sorrow Lake.

What's the catch? There's only one -- if you like the book, we'd appreciate it very much if you'd let the world know by publishing a short review in your blog or column, or on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble or wherever you like to go to spread the word about a book you've enjoyed.

Here's the link:

Thanks very much for your interest. I hope you enjoy the story!