Sunday, 23 December 2012

A White Christmas in Oxford Station

Last week in eastern Ontario we were hearing from Environment Canada that there might be a green Christmas in this part of the country this year. Over the last two days, however, Mother Nature has delivered a stiff rebuttal to those computer-generated predictions with a heavy snowfall.

I took a break from shovelling out my 150-ft. driveway to take this picture of a pickup truck crawling down the road toward me. I had time to walk back up the driveway and take several more pictures before the truck passed. Driving conditions were hardly optimum, to say the least.

The black dot in the middle of the photo on the right is my border collie, who made a beeline for the back trail, hoping we would go for a walk in the forest. Not a chance: I knew the work that lay ahead of me.

After taking these photos, I tried unsuccessfully to start my snowblower, which is a year old. Perhaps mice have built a nest inside the engine, I don't know. At least it would be good for something. Instead, I grabbed my plastic scoop, which works every time I pick it up, and spent a couple hours clearing the snow, which was wet and heavy.

The snow kept coming down, and continued through the night and into the morning yesterday. Because it was wet snow falling on top of a coating of freezing rain, it made the tree branches very heavy. I have a number of birch trees in the yard that will probably have to come down if the caked snow stays on them much longer, because they'll be permanently stooped over to the point that you can't walk beneath them.  Too bad, because I love the birches, but they grow like weeds around here and will soon be replaced. Which reminds me, the local Walmart was selling bundles of three four-foot birch poles for $15 each. Given the amount of birches I have on my property, I figure I must be sitting on a million dollars worth of wood!

Needless to say, there was no time during most of the day to get any work done on the next Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel, which I'm currently researching. Once I came in I was pretty much exhausted, but it was a pleasant fatigue, because there's no prettier sight than winter in Canada when the snow is new and the world seems to have taken on a whiteness that makes everything that much brighter.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Fregoli Delusion: My Interview on The Commentary

Publicity for The Fregoli Delusion, the third Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel, is now underway, and the first stop is thecommentary.ca, where I'm interviewed by Joseph Planta.

Listen to the interview here: http://thecommentary.ca/ontheline/820-michael-j-mccann/

Edited by Joseph Planta and based in Vancouver, BC, thecommentary.ca began in June 1999 as an e-mail newsletter of editorial comment.  It has been online since September 2003. Since August 2004, Mr. Planta's On the Line supplement has also featured more than 350 interviews with renowned bestselling and prize winning authors, Canadian newsmakers and political figures, journalists, academics and public intellectuals, as well as noted artists and personalities.

Guests have included Gloria Loring, Deepa Mehta, Shelagh Rogers, Warren Kinsella, Lorna Crozier, and Will Ferguson.

It was a great pleasure to have been interviewed by Mr. Planta, who has a relaxed and engaging style. I think you'll enjoy our conversation.



Thursday, 13 December 2012

Crime Fiction Christmas 2012 Grab Bag

Now that the holiday season is arriving, we thought it would be fun to scan the headlines for book-buying suggestions for your favourite crime fiction aficionado. After all, what's better than a wintry evening spent in front of a fire in the fireplace, a glass of wine or hot chocolate, and a good mystery?

Margaret Cannon of the Globe and Mail shows us how we can enjoy murder at Christmas with a guide to the latest crime fiction releases, including Beware this Boy by Maureen Jennings and Eleven Pipers Piping by C.C. Benison.

Laura Wilson of the Guardian runs out her list of best crime and thriller books of 2012 for that special Christmas gift, including Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Weirdo by Cathi Unsworth, and Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin.

On books in general, Sophie Hardach of the Telegraph  looks at Liz Mohn, the woman behind Penguin Random House, and comments on the shifting landscape of publishing. For example, she notes, "on a recent New York Times bestseller list, 11 out of 15 titles were published by an imprint belonging to either Penguin or Random House. Agents often try to raise an author’s advance through a bidding war, but why would imprints owned by the same group bid against each other?"

Additionally, the Telegraph published a very nice obituary of well-known mystery author Margaret Yorke, who passed away at the age of 88.

Here's a bit of fun. No Exit Press will be publishing Philosophies of Crime Fiction by Dr Josef Hoffmann in June 2013, and have decided to seek help in choosing their final cover design. According to their press release they "thought this would be an ideal opportunity for a bit of 'crowdsourcing' and to consult the great crime reading public on the best cover to use." Follow the link and cast your vote. What's your favourite?

Finally, here's a link to the press release on my last signing at Collected Works bookstore in Ottawa, as discussed in the previous post. This might be a great place to do some of your Christmas shopping.


Sunday, 9 December 2012

Collected Works Book Signing, Dec. 8, 2012

Yesterday, December 8, I had another chance to see my name up in chalk at the Collected Works Bookstore and Coffee Bar on Wellington St. West in Ottawa, where The Fregoli Delusion joined Blood Passage and Marcie's Murder on the shelf as the third Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel.

It was a quiet afternoon for a book signing, as steadily-falling snow kept many people off the streets, but it made for a very pleasant atmosphere as we watched the big snowflakes come down, and everyone who came in from the sidewalk took a moment to shake off a coating of wet snow inside the door. A young lady sat down at the piano and played for fifteen or twenty minutes, bringing a smile to everyone's face. It was a rare afternoon when books, music, and the beauty of a Canadian December reminded us that bookstores such as Collected Works occupy a very important place in our culture.

Lately the news for independent bookstores in Ottawa has not been very good. In October the Ottawa Citizen reported that Books on Beechwood, an independent that has operated in the city for 18 years, will be closing its doors at the end of January 2013. While a neighbourhood fire had an adverse effect on business in the area, owner Jean Barton said that "declining book sales, the emergence of e-books and more people ordering books online" were also contributing factors in the closing of the store. As she said to reporter Tony Lofaro, "I think bookstores are probably going to go the way of record stores, eventually.”

As the quiet afternoon passed in what is normally a very busy time of year, I couldn't help but worry that Collected Works would soon suffer the same fate as Books on Beechwood, Nicholas Hoare Books, and Mother Tongue, which also closed their doors in 2012. While I'm not a person who believes that large corporations are malevolent or evil by their very nature, I'm convinced just the same that as consumers we have a role to play in ensuring that independent businesses can not only make their rent each month, pay their employees and even turn a bit of a profit, but also keep their doors open so that we can all enjoy alternative sources of culture, literary and popular. When it comes to books, think independent first, because when it comes to local authors and their books, you're very likely to find them in an independent bookstore such as Collected Works.

Although weather conditions and business conditions seemed to dampen things a bit, yesterday was none the less a chance to bring this author together once again with avid book readers, who always make things fun. Chris of Collected Works, pictured on the left, once again did a great job of scheduling the signing, publicizing it through the Collected Works website and on Twitter, and keeping the mood light thanks to his thirteen cups of coffee and indomitable spirit. I asked him to try to look studious and business-like for this picture, and he almost made it.

Thanks very much for everyone who came in yesterday and stopped at my table to chat, and special thanks to those who bought a copy of one of my books, because you contributed not only to the efforts of this local independent author but also to those of a worthy local independent bookseller!







Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Kicking Off the December Book-Signing Schedule

This past Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, I had the opportunity to spend the afternoon at Britton's in the Glebe, 846 Bank St., in Ottawa, for the kick-off book-signing event for The Fregoli Delusion, the third Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel.

The event was hosted by Mr. Ted Britton, a very well-known businessman in the Glebe district, and scheduled by Linda Wiken, who is the manager of the Prime Crime Bookshelf in Britton's.

As you can see from the photo (I'm behind the camera), there's an incredible array of magazines offered in a very modest space. I've always been a magazine lover -- I love the look and feel of them -- and every time I'm in Britton's I'm mesmerized by the wide range on display. Everything from magazines specializing in whisky or tole painting or Christmas decorations to magazines on Buddhism. Magazines from around the world, and local magazines such as Ottawa at Home. While I was there, Mr. Britton fielded a call from someone in Toronto, hoping he stocked a specific magazine about wine. If I wanted to find a very esoteric publication, I'd call him, too!

As an author, I find this store to be a terrific venue for a book signing because the atmosphere is something special, and even if I didn't sell a single book I'd still consider it time very well spent. The traffic in and out the front door (which my table faced) is non-stop, with people coming in for newspapers from around the world, tobacco products, and the coffee at the front counter. Best of all, Mr. Britton seems to know everyone, and always takes the time to chat them up. Then, of course, there's the Prime Crime Bookshelf, which is tailor-made for my novels and features every other well-known local crime fiction author, including C.B. Forrest, Mary Jane Maffini, Brenda Chapman, and Erika Chase, to name a few, which draws many local crime fiction aficionados looking for their next read. For a people-watcher like me, it's enormously fun.

Thanks to Mr. Britton for his kindness and patience, to Linda Wiken for having me back to Britton's for a second time, and thanks to everyone who purchased a book or just stopped by to chat.

This coming Saturday, I'll be back in Ottawa looking for my name up in chalk once again as I sign copies of The Fregoli Delusion at Collected Works and Coffee Bar, 1242 Wellington St. West. Talk about a special atmosphere! I can't wait for this one.


Saturday, 1 December 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Tag

Blog tags are always a lot of fun, and today I've been tagged to participate in the Next Big Thing, in which authors describe what's going on with their current work in progress. Before I begin, I should say that I had the pleasure of being tagged by Brenda Chapman, the well-known Ottawa mystery author whose blog, and Next Big Thing post, may be found here: http://brendachapman.blogspot.ca/. Also participating with us with week is Young Adult author Jeff Ross, whose contribution to the fun is found here: http://jeffrossbooks.com/.

As followers of The Overnight Bestseller will know, I just published The Fregoli Delusion, the third Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel. While for the sake of my mental health I should probably take a bit of a break first, the compulsion to jump right into the next one has proven to be irresistible. Mind you, I'm right at the very beginning of the process, as my answers to the following Next Big Thing questions will show:

What is your working title of your book?
The working title of the next Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel is The Serenity of Night. At the moment it's strictly a working title, but if you like it and think I should keep it, let me know.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
This novel is part of the overall story arc for the series that I developed while writing the first novel, Blood Passage. In this installment of the series, Detective Karen Stainer marries her ever-patient, doting fiancé, FBI Special Agent Sandy Alexander, while a serial killer who is the subject of an ongoing investigation decides that she would be an amusing target for his next horrific murder.

What genre does your book fall under?
The Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel series is categorized as Mystery/Thriller or Crime Fiction. Its subcategory is police procedural, as the novels describe in realistic terms the homicide investigations of the Glendale, Maryland Police Department.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie version? 
This is a difficult question for me to answer. As far as Hank Donaghue is concerned, I think Jeremy Sisto would be great casting for the role, although he's about eight years younger than Hank. I'm going to pass on a choice for Karen Stainer, though. I'd rather have readers answer that question!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
While Homicide Detective Karen Stainer finally takes the big step and marries her ever-patient, doting fiancé, FBI Special Agent Sandy Alexander, a serial killer who is the subject of an ongoing investigation decides that she would be an amusing target for his next horrific murder!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I haven't started writing the draft yet. At the moment I'm designing the character of the serial killer and designing his crimes, as creepy as that sounds, while doing my research. I plan to begin writing the manuscript in the first week of January. I'd like to have the first draft done by the end of April 2013, but we'll see what life brings. Marcie's Murder took about six months from Word One to final revision, while The Fregoli Delusion took more than a year. We shall see. 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
This is another question I'd rather leave to readers and reviewers to answer once the book comes out. I'm not a great reader in this sub-genre, myself, so I'm not really sure about comparisons. I will say, though, that for me, the sub-genre begins and ends with The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. Just the same, I'm going to try to approach the subject of serial murder, which has been worked and reworked a thousand times, from a fresh perspective if I possibly can.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Many readers have asked me, when I've met with them, if I've considered writing from the point of view of the murderer. I usually respond that I prefer to tell the stories from the point of view of the law enforcement officers who devote their careers and their lives to this dangerous and life-consuming work. Peter Mah, of course, is an exception to this rule, and I will return to his point of view later in the series, but for the purposes of The Serenity of Night I will once again tell the story through the eyes of Hank Donaghue and Karen Stainer. However, I have a trick up my sleeve that will take readers into the mind, and the sickness, of my serial killer, just the same. Stay tuned.

So, to make a long answer short, this book will be inspired by my readers, the fans of Donaghue and Stainer.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
The Fregoli Delusion explored the background and life of Hank Donaghue. Fans of Karen Stainer will be delighted to know that in The Serenity of Night we will finally get to the bottom of Karen's chronic anger and anxiety. Attending the wedding from her side of the family will be her brother Darryl Stainer, a veteran Oklahoma state trooper, brother Delbert Stainer, a Houston auto mechanic who fixed up her beloved '79 Firebird for her, and even brother Bradley Stainer, a building contractor in Plano, TX, whom she used to protect from bullies when they were kids. Youngest brother Jimmy Bob Stainer, serving time for armed robbery, will not be able to attend, however.

You'll want to grab a seat at the table while Darryl orders a round of beer for everyone, including you. Sit back and listen to the Stainers talk about their childhood, their beloved late father, Texas State Trooper Bobby Stainer, and their mother, Mary Beth, who is still institutionalized in Texas with severe schizophrenia.

Then ask yourself: what kind of serial killer has the moxie to stalk a veteran homicide detective as his next victim in a small town in Bath County, Virginia, where almost every wedding guest is a cop, a state trooper, or an FBI special agent?

You're not going to want to miss this one!
   
       

Monday, 26 November 2012

Crime Fiction Grab Bag No. 7

It's time for another crime fiction grab bag here at The Overnight Bestseller, as we celebrate the news and views from the past few weeks in our favorite literary genre.

Why not begin at the top, with a feature by Kevin Nance of the Chicago Tribune on Michael Connelly and The Black Box, another Harry Bosch offering. While we're on the subject, here's a review of The Black Box by Patrick Anderson of the Washington Post, and a very amusing opinion piece on Harry Bosch by Julia Keller, cultural critic for the Chicago Tribune.

If you love pulp fiction, as I do, you won't want to miss this article for CNN by Christian DuChateau explaining how editor and publisher Charles Ardai tracked down and published The Cocktail Waitress, an unpublished novel by James M. Cain (The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity) written at the end of his life.

Margaret Cannon's recent crime fiction roundup in the Toronto Globe and Mail includes reviews of Louise Penny's The Beautiful Mystery, Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin, and The Jewels of Paradise by Donna Leon.

Finally, Jack Batten of the Toronto Star offers another set of mini-reviews in his latest Whodunit column, including his takes on Port Vila Blues by Gary Disher, Cut to the Bone by Joan Boswell, Deadly Politics by Maggie Sefton, and Dare Me by Megan Abbott.

Speaking of Whodunit, you may not have caught Jack Batten's mini-review of Marcie's Murder this summer. If so, well, here it is again!

Enjoy.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Book Review: The Banker Spy

Once again The Overnight Bestseller is pleased to host a Tribute Books November 2012 blog tour. This time we welcome William G. Byrnes as we take an inside look at The Banker Spy.

The Banker Spy: Book Summary
The Banker Spy weaves history into a contemporary thriller about ex-lovers who become entangled in a web of international intrigue. Investment banker Peter Armstrong believes he’s left his past in the States. He has an exciting new job in London and is managing the largest equity offering in European history. Behind him are an incident at his old employer and a broken engagement. He thinks his only problem is his client—an automobile company desperate for cash. Then he receives a phone call from his ex-fiancée, Dayna Caymus, a beautiful and unpredictable CIA agent. When Peter discovers that his client is secretly working for the German government the two ex-lovers enter into an uneasy alliance which their past sometimes helps and sometimes hurts, all the while sorting through their feelings for each other. Dayna puts her mission first, leading Peter into a labyrinth of deception and conspiracy. Peter loses his client, his job, and almost his life as they race to learn Germany’s secrets—secrets that could start a nuclear war.

Format/Price: $2.99 ebook
Publisher: Publish Green
ISBN: 9781938296345
Release: August 27, 2012
Kindle buy link ($2.99):
            http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00936UHRI?tag=tributebooks-20

William G. Byrnes: Biography
Bill Byrnes was an investment banker with Alex. Brown & Sons for 17 years. After that he was a Distinguished Teaching Professor of Finance and, subsequently, member of the Board of Regents at Georgetown University. He's founded three companies and has served on the boards of six public companies. He holds degrees from Georgetown University and the University of Michigan. His interests include European and Meso-american history, wine collecting, and automobiles. He's happiest around the water and on the tennis court. Bill, his wife, and their two poodles divide their time between Washington, DC and West Palm Beach, FL.

Our Review of The Banker Spy
Since the end of the Cold War, writers of espionage novels have had difficulty in developing credible spy thrillers.  In his debut novel, William G. Byrnes has written a contemporary thriller based on the politics emerging after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, while artfully weaving in the history of Nazi Germany.  The “banker spy” is the novel's protagonist, Peter Armstrong,  who is caught between his duties as investment banker and his loyalties to his country and ex-lover Dayna Caymus, a CIA operative, in averting a potential war involving nuclear weapons.  The novel is well-researched with the historical elements explained in such a manner as to heighten interest in the storyline.  The result is a gripping narrative that begins with a car chase and continues along at a fast pace until its explosive conclusion!

This novel will appeal to fans of the espionage novel, as well as to followers of thriller writers such as Stephen Frey and Brad Meltzer.

Related Sites

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tribute-Books-Blog-Tours/242431245775186

The Banker Spy blog tour site:
http://thebankerspy.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The Fregoli Delusion: A Sneak Peek

The Fregoli Delusion, the third Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel, is now available in e-book format, and the trade paperback version is working its way through the distribution network to your favorite online bookseller via the Ingram and Baker & Taylor book catalogs, which are available to independent bookstores in most locations. Stop in today and ask them to order your copy!

If you're a fan of the series, you'll be pleased to learn that Hank Donaghue and Karen Stainer are once more back home in Glendale and on the job in the hottest homicide investigation they've faced yet.

Billionaire H.J. Jarrett, president and CEO of a large health care corporation, has been shot to death on a bike path near his mansion in prestigious Granger Park. The good news for Karen is that she has an eyewitness who tells her he saw a man running away from the scene moments after the fatal shot was fired. The bad news for Karen, however, is that the eyewitness suffers from Fregoli syndrome, a rare disorder that makes his testimony useless to her.

While Hank leads their investigation into the top one percent of Glendale's economic and social strata, which include close friends of his own mother, Karen becomes more and more convinced that their eyewitness has been telling the truth all along!
 
Before you take a look at the sneak peek below, remember that if you'd like to sample the beginning of the novel (or purchase it in whole), you can simply follow one of these links:

The Fregoli Delusion: A Sneak Peek!

In this sneak peek, Karen and Hank have just left Jarrett Tower, where crime scene technicians are gathering forensic evidence related to the victim's business and security arrangements. The scene is under the control of Midtown district Sergeant John Graham, also known as Johnny Go, who had the dubious distinction of being Karen's mentor when she was an up-and-coming uniformed officer.

“Funny story,” Karen said as she floored the accelerator of the unmarked black Crown Victoria Police Interceptor and shot over to the inside northbound lane of Howard Boulevard. “Johnny Go was having a coffee the other day at this little sidewalk place down on Pritchard Street in Little Italy. Across the street he sees one of his guys come out of a shoe store, walking his beat. As he heads up the street, the guy’s firearm suddenly falls off his belt and drops onto the sidewalk behind him. Apparently the holster was one of the swivel types. The swivel broke and the gun fell right out. The guy never even noticed.”

“Good lord,” Hank said.

“I’m just getting started. A little old lady is walking behind him. Short little thing with the long black dress, big black shoes and a black kerchief over her head, big black purse on her arm. Typical Italian grandmother. She bends down, picks up the gun, and starts after the guy with it, holding it out in front of her.”

“Oh, oh.”

“You got it. The guy’s partner comes out of the next store, sees this short person with a black robe and black headdress trotting after his partner, holding out a gun, and he thinks he’s suddenly in the middle of some kind of terrorist action.”

“Shit.”

“Now I’m thinking, Johnny’s gonna tell me the partner drew his weapon and shot the old lady dead.” She shook her head. “The guy tackles her from behind, down onto the sidewalk. Bam.”

Hank smiled.

“By this time Johnny Go’s dodging traffic to get across the street. When he gets there the guy’s still lying on top of her, and he’s trying to pull the gun out of her hand. She won’t let go, and she’s yelling, “Is his, is his!”

Hank started to laugh.

“Johnny gets there and pulls them both up. By this time, the first guy’s turned around and walking back, trying to figure out what the hell’s going on. The old lady holds out the gun to him and he stops dead, thinking that whatever it is, it ain’t over. So he reaches for his sidearm and, what do you know, it ain’t there.

“The old lady says, ‘Hey you, you droppa you gun! Take it!’”

Hank looked out the window, laughing.

“So the guy takes his gun and Johnny says to the other guy, ‘Apologize to the lady for knocking her down.’ So the guy apologizes. She hauls off and hits him right in the marbles with her purse.”

“Ouch.”

“Johnny says to me, ‘Lesson Number One, Stains, be aware of your firearm at all times. Lesson Number Two, make sure your equipment never lets you down. Check it before and after every shift.’ And Lesson Number Three?”

Hank looked at her.

“Never judge by appearances.”

**************************



Saturday, 17 November 2012

Book Review: Under the Eye of God

The Overnight Bestseller is pleased to host the Tribute Books November 2012 blog tour for Under The Eye of God: An Isaac Sidel Novel, by Jerome Charyn.

Under The Eye of God: Book Summary
After decades of madness in the Bronx, Isaac Sidel visits the craziest state in the country.

Isaac Sidel is too popular to be America’s vice president. Once the New York Police Department commissioner, he became the most beloved mayor in the city’s history—famous for his refusal to surrender his Glock, and for his habit of disappearing for months at a time to fight crime at street level. So when baseball czar J. Michael Storm asks Sidel to join him on the election’s Democratic ticket, the two wild men romp to an unprecedented landslide. But as the president-elect’s mandate goes off the rails—threatened by corruption, sex, and God knows what else—he tires of being overshadowed by Sidel, and dispatches him to a place from which tough politicians seldom return: Texas.

In the Lone Star state, Sidel confronts rogue astrologers, accusations of pedophilia, and a dimwitted assassin who doesn’t know when to take an easy shot. If this Bronx bomber doesn’t watch his step, he risks making vice-presidential history by getting killed on the job.
Paperback
Price: $14.99
Release: October 30, 2012

Jerome Charyn: Biography
Jerome Charyn (b. 1937) is the critically acclaimed author of nearly fifty books. Born in the Bronx, he attended Columbia College, where he fell in love with the works of William Faulkner and James Joyce. After graduating, he took a job as a playground director and wrote in his spare time, producing his first novel, a Lower East Side fairytale called Once Upon a Droshky, in 1964.

In 1974 Charyn published Blue Eyes, his first Isaac Sidel mystery. Begun as a distraction while trying to finish a different book, this first in a series of Sidel novels introduced the eccentric, near-mythic detective and his bizarre cast of sidekicks. Charyn followed the character through Citizen Sidel (1999), which ends with his antihero making a run at the White House. Charyn, who divides his time between New York and Paris, is also accomplished at table tennis, and once ranked amongst France’s top Amazon10 percent of ping-pong players. 

Our Review of Under The Eye of God
Jerome Charyn's Under the Eye of God is the eleventh novel to feature his beloved character Isaac Sidel, who in his various incarnations has progressed from detective to commissioner to mayor and now to the VP-elect of the United States. The novel follows the “Big Guy with the Glock” from New York to Texas as he dodges bullets while dealing with love, betrayal, corruption, conflicting loyalties, and self-doubt.  The story contains enough plot twists and conspiracies to keep even Oliver Stone fans delighted.   Along the way, Sidel attracts a motley crew of misfits and reluctant assassins, who are “madmen and freaks”drawn into the “undercurrent of his [Sidel's] own mad wake”  (p. 112).  At risk is Sidel's (and Charyn's) beloved Bronx, which faces a threat in the form of a land grab from the highest levels of power: the White House and the Pentagon. 

This novel will appeal not only to devotees of the Sidel novels, but also to readers  who enjoy clever and colorful prose, fast-paced action, and manic misadventures in the style of Donald Westlake.

Related Sites
Jerome Charyn's web site:
http://www.jeromecharyn.com/

Jerome Charyn's Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/#!/jerome.charyn

Jerome Charyn's Twitter:
http://twitter.com/jeromecharyn

Isaac Sidel's Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/IsaacSidel

Isaac Sidel's Twitter:
https://twitter.com/#!/IsaacSidel

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tribute-Books-Blog-Tours/242431245775186

Under the Eye of God blog tour site:
http://undertheeyeofgod.blogspot.com/
Video Trailer:

Thursday, 15 November 2012

New, Lower Prices for D&S Series E-Books


To celebrate the publication of The Fregoli Delusion, The Plaid Raccoon Press has reduced the price on the e-book editions of Blood Passage and Marcie's Murder, the first two books in the Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel Series.

Blood Passage is now available for the new low price of $1.99 USD, while Marcie's Murder may be purchased for $2.99 USD.

These new prices have already been implemented, but may not have reached all distribution points at this printing. If you see the old price still listed, feel free to follow the Smashwords link listed below, where you may obtain copies for the device of your choice, and the new prices are already in effect.

Blood Passage e-book links:

Kindle                        Nook
Kobo                         Sony
Apple
Smashwords

Marcie's Murder e-book links:
Kindle                       Nook
Kobo                        Sony
Apple
Smashwords

A Note on the Pricing
The Fregoli Delusion is the third novel in the series, and many e-book authors have discovered that their sales jump noticeably once they publish their third book. One of the techniques used by many authors includes dropping the price of the first book to Free, which increases the volume of downloads they see and helps hook readers into the series.

We've decided not to make Blood Passage available for Free.  We're hoping that being able to purchase all three titles in the series for a grand total of $9.97 USD will be enough of an incentive to entice more readers to take the plunge.

Why have we decided not to reset the price of Blood Passage to Free? Last year The Plaid Raccoon Press published several short stories featuring Donaghue and Stainer, and these were all made available at no cost to the reader. While the stories saw a great many downloads, there was never any way of telling whether or not people were actually reading the stories or just collecting "freebies."

More importantly, though, the comments and "reviews" we did receive were occasionally very nasty. Every independent author experiences this phenomenon, of course, and one soon learns to grow a thick skin, but it seemed that many people felt getting something for nothing entitled them to say whatever popped into their head, including vulgarisms, racist remarks, and other slurs that made it obvious the person either hadn't read the story or else had read it very carelessly. It wasn't making very good business sense to keep these stories posted with such negativity attached to them.

The final straw came in a bizarre twist when two people started using one of the free stories as a mail drop. The good news was that each time they entered a comment they gave the story a five-star rating, but the messages they exchanged were in some kind of cryptic code that soon began to creep us out. It was time to remove the free stories altogether and rethink this strategy.

As a result, Blood Passage is listed at $1.99 USD. While we may occasionally offer it for a lower price, and perhaps even for free during promotional events through the use of coupon codes, The Plaid Raccoon Press has implemented a policy of never again setting an e-book price at Free in the future. If readers feel an overwhelming desire to register their outrage, hatred, and anger at what they read, well, frankly, they can pay two bucks for the privilege.

Meanwhile, we can rest easier at night in the knowledge that the comments section of our publications are not posing any kind of security risk!

Thanks to you all for your patience and understanding.

M.J. McCann
L.L. Clark
The Plaid Raccoon Press

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Announcing the Publication of The Fregoli Delusion

The Plaid Raccoon Press is very pleased to announce the publication of  The Fregoli Delusion, the third Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel by Michael J. McCann.

The e-book version of the novel is currently available from Amazon for Kindle e-readers and from Smashwords for the e-reader of your choice. It has been approved for Smashwords' premium catalogue and will soon be available for purchase directly from Barnes & Noble for the Nook, as well as from Kobo, Apple (iBooks), and Sony.

The paperback version of the novel will be available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and may also be ordered from the independent bookseller of your choice through the Ingram Book Catalog. An update on the availability of the paperback will be provided as soon as distribution is complete.

Synopsis: When billionaire H.J. Jarrett is shot to death on a bike path in prestigious Granger Park, the killer is seen running away by a man who is apparently in the right place at the right time. However, Glendale Homicide Lieutenant Hank Donaghue and Detective Karen Stainer discover to their dismay that their only eyewitness suffers from a rare psychotic disorder that makes his testimony useless.

As Donaghue’s investigation focuses on the top one percent of Glendale’s social stratum, including close friends of his own mother, Stainer finds herself alone when her gut instinct tells her that their eyewitness is right after all!

Publication Date: November 8, 2012
Approx. Words: 88,184
Pages (Paperback): 266

Cover photograph copyright by René Mansi / iStockphoto. Used under license.


Friday, 9 November 2012

Crime Fiction Grab Bag No. 6

Now that The Fregoli Delusion has been sent off to the printers and the e-book version has been uploaded to Smashwords and Amazon, I can turn my attention to some serious blogging. Watch for an upcoming post in which I present the new Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel, and offer a free sample!

Today, however, it's time to catch up on the news in the world of crime fiction.

Mark Shanahan of the Boston Globe offers this very interesting article on Dennis Lehane's efforts to move beyond the stereotypical expectations of crime fiction in his recent work, including the novel Live by Night.

Time for controversy? Mark Lawson of RadioTimes presents his list of the seventeen greatest European fictional detectives.  Personally, I think Maigret should have been given the nod ahead of Poirot for top spot, but that's just me....

Just for fun, and because it's impossible to ignore Scottish crime fiction these days, here's Brian Donaldson of The List with "Tartan Noir: An A-to-Z of Scottish Crime Fiction."

In a different direction, Terry Ambrose of examiner.com offers us a look at Edith Maxwell, a Quaker who writes murder mysteries as Tace Baker. She's the author of Speaking of Murder, about a Quaker linguistics professor who finds her star student dead.

Finally, fans of Patricia Cornwell may be interested in this article by David Connett of the Independent covering the well-known mystery author's current legal battle involving a $180 million law suit.

Enjoy, and stay with me for more exciting news over the next few days!





Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Crime Fiction Grab Bag No. 5: Bouchercon and More

This week's crime fiction grab bag begins with the 2012 Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, the annual event for crime fiction authors and fans that took place this year in Cleveland, Ohio.

Highlights of the event included Louise Penny receiving her third Anthony Award for Best Novel for A Trick of the Light. Meanwhile, Mystery Readers International awarded their Macavity Award for Best Novel to Sara Gran for Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, the first book in her new "Claire DeWitt" series. As well, Canadian crime fiction authors hosted a Meet the Canucks dessert event, as reported by Linda Wiken.

In other news, Margaret Cannon of the Toronto Globe and Mail provides an encouraging review of Linwood Barclay's new novel, Trust Your Eyes, along with a look at Karin Fossum, Marek Krajewski, and Ian Hamilton.

Meanwhile, Adam Woog of the Seattle Times praises The Cutting Season by Attica Locke, Dan Fesperman's The Double Game, and The Hot Country, "Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler's foray into crime fiction."

Finally, Jack Batten of the Toronto Star provides another series of mini-reviews on Peter Robinson's Watching the Dark, Bones are Forever by Kathy Reichs, Barclay's Trust Your Eyes, and Hamilton's The Red Pole of Macau.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Autumn in Canada Brings a Welcome Change of Pace

Autumn has arrived in Canada, and with it comes a welcome change of pace for me as I prepare to publish The Fregoli Delusion, the third Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel.

The manuscript has been rewritten, revised, edited, and proofread. Now it's in the hands of my trusty beta readers, who will parse it for flaws, errors, and patches of boredom begging to be skipped. While they get to work on it, I have a chance to do something a little different for a change.

Yesterday I went for a walk in the forest behind the house with my camera in hand. As you can see, the leaves are rapidly changing colour and carpeting the ground. On the right are two red maple leaves I found resting comfortably on a bed of white pine needles.

The back of my property is actually in transition, part of the reforestation of a wide stretch of land that was cleared in the nineteenth century as farmland but hasn't been farmed in about forty years or so, having instead been subdivided and sold off as building lots. It's a mixture of softwood trees that usually come first in reforestation -- tamarack, birch, pine, and cedar -- and hardwood trees that follow, especially maple, elm, and a few precious oaks.

In eastern Ontario it was a very dry summer, which was bad news for farmers in the area but good news for someone like myself who prefers dry weather to wet. However, I spent most of the summer at this desk, working on the book. Now that the bulk of the work is done, I'm free to get outside without feeling guilty, but with frost warnings at night and frequent rain, I have to accept the fact that  summer's gone and autumn's here instead.

I've decided to try to shift my schedule to take better advantage of the seasons. This winter I'll try to complete two projects. The first is a rewrite of my first novel, The Ghost Man, which will be the subject of an upcoming post. The second will be to write the next Donaghue and Stainer novel. If all goes well, I'll be able to take next summer off and enjoy the warm weather while it's here. Sounds like a plan.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Canadian Peace and Police Officers Memorial 2012

Today we take a moment to honour the men and women who dedicate their careers and their lives to the protection of our homes and streets in Canada through the national Police and Peace Officers Memorial ceremony held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Special tribute was paid today to Constable Vincent Roy of the Bromont, Que., Police Service whose name was etched in a glass panel that stands at the Memorial Pavilion in the nation's capital, which now carries the names of 826 fallen officers. Roy was struck and killed during a routine traffic stop on December 1, 2011.

Also honoured this year were
  • Staff Sergeant George H. Bossange, killed June 21, 1919 as a member of the Royal North West Mounted Police, a force that was merged with Dominion Police in 1920 to the current Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
  • Constable George Armstrong who died while on duty with the Nipigon Police in northern Ontario on July 18, 1919.
  • Ontario Provincial Police County Constable Harry Fordham, who died February 2, 1942.
 Hats off to these brave law enforcement officers and their families.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Word on the Street 2012, Toronto

This past weekend I was fortunate to be able to attend Word on the Street, the annual book festival held each year at Queen's Park in downtown Toronto. Despite the threat of bad weather, a great crowd came out to enjoy Canada's largest literary event, featuring publishers, authors, associations, and book vendors. Each year this festival draws up to 200,000 people, and as I circulated around in the early afternoon I had a chance to listen to authors reading from their latest works, I browsed through countless books for sale, and chatted with authors making a special appearance to sign books for avid readers crowding the booths.

The Crime Writers of Canada were well represented in the afternoon in our booth close to the College Street entrance. Pictured on the right are (from left to right) authors N.J. Lindquist, Catherine Astolfo, Rosemary McCracken, and Mel Bradshaw. I was pleased to be able to meet an amazing number of people walking by the booth who are interested in crime fiction and love reading mysteries. My own book signing was scheduled for 3:00 PM but I spent two hours before that just meeting people, listening to their reading interests, and having fun talking with them. To each and every one of you who took a moment of your time to stop and chat with me, a big thank you. I hope you enjoyed the festival as much as I did.

At 3:00 PM I went behind the table to sign copies of Marcie's Murder and Blood Passage. I was honoured to share the table with the inimitable Hilary MacLeod (pictured with me: "It's not a hat, it's a fascinator!"), Rick Blechta (who told me a few great stories about book signing experiences in his past), and David Rotenberg, whose Detective Zhong Fong novels happen to be a personal favourite of mine (thanks for the autographs, David). It was a great experience to share the booth with these fine authors, and I thank them for their kindness.

Thanks very much as well to Nate Hendley, who helped organize the event for the Crime Writers of Canada, to Catherine Astolfo, who took me under her wing and refused to be embarrassed by my enthusiasm, and everyone else involved!

Friday, 21 September 2012

Sepia Saturday No. 144

It's once again Sepia Saturday, when I take a break from the business of crime fiction writing to indulge in my favourite hobby, collecting and admiring old photographs. This week's theme, as provided by Alan Burnett at http://sepiasaturday.blogspot.ca/, is based on a photo posted by Alan in which the photographer omitted some poor fellow's head. As a variation on the theme of photographer as decapitator, or omitter of other body parts, I found two photos in my collection that suggest the theme of amateur photographers as imperfect framers and shot composers.

This first photo is a family portrait:

I like this photo very much. An outdoor portrait of a very handsome man with, I'm guessing, his mother and his daughter. Everyone's very well dressed, but the photographer "spoiled" the shot by failing to clear away the timothy and clover in the foreground, not to mention the gigantic leaf on the right. Just the same, the photo was considered acceptable enough to have been mounted on an expensive-looking embossed black mounting board (cropped out of my scan) and kept with other family photos through the years. In pencil, on the back, the photo is dated "1912." I like this portrait not only because the man has a great mustache, but also because, unlike a studio shot, it puts these people right in the middle of the physical world in which they lived. In the middle of life.

This second photo is a group photo of an event of some kind:


I've included this picture in the theme of amateur frame-botching because of the sign or banner in the top left corner. Just enough to tantalize, far too little to let us know what kind of an event it was. Pencilled on the bottom of the mounting board (which I cropped out of this scan) is "Burt Grove." It could be anywhere, but I think it might be Burt's Grove, which was in Auburn, New York, a Google search of which turns up several references to picnics and other similar events there in the late nineteenth century/early twentieth century.

Now that we've dispensed with the theme, take a look at the people in this photo (click on it for a closer view). First we have the group of five girls under the tree on the right, who seem to be the only ones aware of the photographer. Next, look at the young lady in the centre, viewed in profile. She seems to be trying to talk to the young fellow sitting under the tree, who appears to be sulking. Oblivious, everyone else is helping themselves to the spread on the tables, which is supposed to be the main idea, in the first place! This one, folks, is an example of a picture that could easily support a thousand words and a hundred different stories.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Crime Fiction Grab Bag: Bloody Scotland Checks In

It's time for another Crime Fiction Grab Bag, and this time Bloody Scotland holds the spotlight.

The verdict is in! Bloody Scotland, the first crime fiction festival held in Scotland, is reported to have been a great success. The local paper, the Stirling Observer, were very pleased to have had this event take place in their back yard.

The brainchild of Lin Anderson and Alex Gray, the festival ran from Sept. 14 to 16. The BBC News online provides a look at novelists Alex Gray and Caro Ramsay.

The Daily Record hailed the festival as a success, providing links to several interesting video clips in which festival participants are interviewed.

The Daily Record also focused on Alex Gray, and how she consulted with a pathologist while researching her novel.

Finally, online blogger Bookwitch provides an excellent summary of the festival, complete with many photographs.

On another note, in case you missed it, here's the Guardian UK on an author's apparent descent from near-fame to shame as a result of the sock puppet scandal.

Finally, I invite you to read my recent interview with New York-based book manager Lori Higham on Newsblog, in which I discuss the writing process, influences, and more: http://enewsblogs.com/literature/michael-mccann-marcies-murder/

Friday, 14 September 2012

Sepia Saturday No. 143

Well, it's Saturday again, which means two things. First, I haven't posted since last Saturday, which isn't a good thing, but my excuse is that I'm getting The Fregoli Delusion ready for publication and it's a very exciting, exhausting time. The second thing? It's Sepia Saturday again!

This week's theme is grocery stores and food, based on a photo provided by Alan Burnett, the host of this blog hop, which you can view here: http://sepiasaturday.blogspot.ca/. (Follow the links on his page to view the contributions of other participants. It's great fun!) While I actually have no photos of grocery stores in my collection, and almost no photos of interest featuring food, I do have the following store interior shot I'd like to share:



While today I might walk into a Gap or a similar store to buy menswear, one hundred years ago I would have come to this establishment to buy a new shirt, new collars or collar studs, or perhaps even a new tie for 69 cents! This particular store is very neat and organized, and the tin ceiling looks immaculate.   From the football pennant hanging in the background I'd guess that the store's name was Stein and Callen, and I believe the date on it is 1917. Interesting is the fact that the store clerk is wearing low-cut trousers and a belt, which became more popular after World War I as men became accustomed to uniforms and began to move away from high-cut trousers with suspenders.

I scoured my collection for something food related, and found this happy-looking fellow:


If I'm reading his insignia correctly, he was a captain in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and if I had to guess, he got some very good news about a new addition at home. I'd say his buddies detailed him to "dig up" some chow for the new mouth to feed, hence the package of Pillsbury's Enriched Farina and the clever visual pun!


Friday, 7 September 2012

A Person Needs a Hobby: Sepia Saturday


Followers of the Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel series will be interested to know that edits are about to begin in earnest on The Fregoli Delusion. I have to say, though, that getting this latest book done has been like walking from Ireland to Canada across the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, one step at a time.



My God, Newfoundland should be somewhere up ahead, shouldn't it?

But wait. A person needs a hobby, and now it's time to confess to one of mine. With thanks to Kat Mortensen and Alan Burnett, creators of Sepia Saturday ("Using old images as prompts for new reflections"), I'd like to sign on to their blog hop and invite everyone to check them out at http://sepiasaturday.blogspot.ca/.

I collect old photographs. I'm an amateur genealogist and have gathered a few family photos, but my collection is predominantly made up of strangers. Expressed in terms of the famous Ws, I don't know Who, Where, When or even, sometimes Why. Their photos have been removed from family albums and sold individually in many cases. Scattered to the four winds. So I'm gathering them up and bringing them together, these migrant faces, and wondering what stories they might tell me.

Without further ado, I give you my first offering on Sepia Saturday:

This tintype came to me in a job lot of twenty-six that I picked up for five dollars because they were all "hurtin' and in need of tender lovin' care." If you click on it for a closer look, you'll see that the image has chipped away quite a bit around the edges and the metal has rusted. (Quick tutorial for those more interested in crime fiction than antique photography: tintypes were made by placing a collodion emulsion on a piece of enameled or painted iron metal. They were, as Debra Clifford aptly puts it, the real workhorse of popular photography in the last half of the nineteenth century.)

When I look closely at the wear and rust on this tintype, however, I see that it actually enhances the beauty of the photo for me. It reminds me that although time does its work on us, something in the human spirit endures. These two young women, perhaps close friends, no doubt cherished the bond between them that lasted, hopefully, throughout their long lives. They're gone now, to wherever it is that we all go when time finishes with us, but this symbol of their friendship has tumbled down the years into my hands to appreciate as a true work of art. I'm glad to be able to share with you.

Or to put it another way, I'm glad to be able to reintroduce these two fine young ladies to the world, through a medium they couldn't possible have imagined in their wildest dreams.


Saturday, 25 August 2012

Crime Fiction Grab Bag No. 3

It's the weekend, which means it's time for another crime fiction grab bag here on The Overnight Bestseller, where we're constantly beating the bushes for the best new tidbits in the world of crime fiction.

Jonathan Santlofer, Director of New York's Crime Fiction Academy, gives us a heads-up on this fall's workshops, including participation by Lawrence Block, Susan Isaacs, and Dennis Lehane, along with editors and agents to discuss the ins and outs of the publishing world. If you'd like to brush up on crime fiction writing fundamentals and you've a hankering to visit NYC, this might be for you.

"If you haven't heard of the insanely talented and clever Wolf Haas," Seattlepi.com tells us, then it's about time you did. One of the best-selling crime fiction authors in Germany, Haas features private investigator Simon Brenner in a hard-boiled series of which Brenner and God, the first translated into English, is the latest.

Ian Rankin gives us a look back at his Inspector Rebus series, and chooses some of his favourite moments, courtesy of the Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2012/aug/23/rebus-ian-rankin-favourite.

From the "are-you-freaking-kidding-me" category, NPR's Mary Louise Kelly reports on Hollywood's incredible goof in casting Tom Cruise (I'm a fan, just not right now) in the role of Jack Reacher in the upcoming film based on Lee Child's bestselling series featuring the ex-Army M.P. major: "Okay, he doesn't look exactly right," Child finally admitted.

And finally, a generous new profile of the Canadian author of the Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel series, by Joseph Morin in the EMC News/Advance, in which he looks at the long road to publication and the development of "memorable and richly detailed characters."

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Donaghue and Stainer Join the Prime Crime Bookshelf at Britton's

Photo by Amanda D. (Yelp)
As readers of The Overnight Bestseller may recall, I have blogged before about my affection for independent bookstores and how much fun it can be to see my name up in chalk.  In an age of economies of scale, it's increasingly difficult for local businesses to compete with large chains, particularly in the bookselling business where even the large bricks-and-mortar bookstores are threatened with extinction.  That's why I urge people to support their local independent bookstores wherever they are, whenever possible.

You can imagine, then, why I had a smile on my face this Saturday when I walked into Britton's in the Glebe in Ottawa and took a look at the new Prime Crime Bookshelf, the brainchild of Linda Wiken and store owner Ted Britton. For fourteen years Linda owned the Ottawa mystery specialty store Prime Crime Books, which closed in 2010. She is now the author of  the Ashton Corners Book Club Mysteries as Erika Chase, the first novel of which, A Killer Read, was recently published. It would seem, though, that bookselling was an itch she still longed to scratch, and when Ted Britton decided to expand the small book section in his magazine and cigar store, crime fiction and Linda Wiken presented the perfect opportunity.

As Linda explains in a recent post on her blog, Mystery Maven Canada, the focus of the Prime Crime Bookshelf "will be on Canadian mystery authors, particularly local Ottawans," with the usual suspects such as Stieg Larsson, Michael Connelly, and other bestsellers in their own little ghetto on the side. The objective will be to "give a good representation of what's happening in the mystery/crime field."

How pleased and honoured was I, then, when Linda and Ted agreed to accept the Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel series as part of their new venture? And how much fun was it when a loyal customer, Johanne, purchased a copy of Blood Passage and allowed me to sign it for her before the books even made it to the shelf?

On the subject of book signings, I also was pleased to accept their invitation to serve as their first book signing event on September 15, 2012, from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM. More to follow on that score later.

I should mention that Britton's is located at 846 Bank Street, Ottawa. I should also mention, in the interest of full disclosure, that before I left I bought a nice selection of cigars to enjoy while the weather's still nice outside. And the next time I'm there, I'll probably pick up a fistful of magazines you don't see hardly anywhere else. How perfect is this? Great cigars, eclectic magazines, and crime fiction. The best of all possible worlds, perhaps?

Friday, 10 August 2012

Guest post by author Ginger Marcinkowski

The Overnight Bestseller is pleased to welcome author Ginger Marcinkowski as our guest today. A native of Maine, Ginger was raised along the Canadian border and spent many summers in New Brunswick, in the area of Perth and Plaster Rock, where her first novel, Run, River Currents, is set.

A public speaker and visiting lecturer for many years, Ginger has been a reader for the James Jones First Novel Award and is currently a judge for the East-West Writer's Contest. Her works have been awarded honorable mentions and she has placed in several writing contests. She is looking forward to writing full-time in 2013. She took time from her busy schedule to describe the process she followed to publish her first novel. So without further ado, will ...

Someone Find My Hair, Please?

I’m writing this post while I'm in the final stages of publishing my new novel. Run, River Currents is slated to be released on or around August 3. Edits, book cover design, contracts, interviews, blog posts. I’m pulling my hair out in clumps, I’m so busy.

Throughout this process I’ve been asked a million times, “How did you get your book published?” I know there are a thousand books on that subject alone, but what I think people are aching to hear is a simplified version of how to get it done. That’s why I’m here. Simple advice, from a simple kind of girl. After all, I am blonde.

Here’s the Simpleton’s Guide. Follow it. Get published. Really.

Have a real desire to write, and then write a lot. Every day.

Learn the craft of writing. That means you need to learn to understand these simple terms:
  • Voice
  • Structure
  • Sense of Place or Setting
  • Syntax
  • Dialogue
  • Character
  • Genre
  • Showing, Not Telling.
That’s what my M.F.A. (Master’s of Fine Arts Degree) did for me and no, I’m not going to explain. Figure it out any way you can. Take some courses. Go to some writing conferences, get a degree or simply pick people’s brains. You HAVE to know craft before you can become really good, or at least good enough that publishers will take notice.

Network. There is so much truth in the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” The other side to that is that it’s easy to get to know people. Don’t lock yourself in a closet. Find a conference or a writer’s event and even if you can’t afford to pay to go, you CAN afford to volunteer at the event! It’s amazing how many contacts I made by giving my time!

Write a good “log line.” I’ll give you this one. A log line is a one-sentence attention grabber, as you only have a few seconds to get the pitchee to ask more questions about your story. Here was mine. Got me a boat-load of agent and publisher business cards with this one:

Twenty-seven-year-old Emily Evans, stands over her father’s coffin, lifts her arm, and punches full force into his face. “You’ll never be dead enough, “she says. “Never.”

Doesn’t it make you wonder why she’d do such a thing? Well, that is why your log line is so important. With the little bit of time you usually have to pitch your story, make it worth their while.

Now write a “pitch.” For those unfamiliar with that word, it’s the “story” you want the editor and publisher to know. It comes right after the “log-line.” It should come off the top of your head after many, many rehearsed hours. It should sound as natural when you share it with them as it does when you tell a friend about your manuscript. And it’s still a manuscript until it’s published, so don’t go and show your “newbieness” off by calling it a book. Also, a “pitch” can be part of a “query” letter if it is sent in written form to an agent or publisher. The style is the same. Short. To the point. The only difference to me was the fact that I was face-to-face in pitch conferences and I was not in an e-mail query. Both required the same kind of intensity.

Here’s the written part of my pitch and then how I broke it down so I’d remember it when I gave a verbal pitch.

The rage-filled act sets Emily on journey to rediscover the peace she’d lost as a child at the hands of her father. Memories of her father’s brutal attacks battle the lessons of hope and forgiveness she’d learned at her grandfather’s side along the banks of the Tobique River. As she recalls the summer tent revivals and baptisms, the harvest of the forests and potato fields, the drowning of her best friend, and the fly-fishing excursions with her Bible-toting grandfather, the weight of her present life choices balance precariously between the horror of her past and the uncertainty of her future. Emily is at a crossroads. No longer able to live with the rage that boils inside, a rage she has taken out on her husband and her siblings, she determines to end her personal struggle beneath the waters of the Tobique. She wades into the river and, taking one final breath, presses beneath the rushing flow. Will the Tobique finally cleanse her of her past, or will it take her life? The Women’s Fiction manuscript ends with Emily’s renewed ability to forgive.

When I pitched in person, I kept in my head, Who? What? When? Where & How?

    Who?    - Emily, her father, her mother & her grandfather
    What?   - She had to find escape from the memory of her father’s attacks & her
                   mother’s emotional abandonment
    When?  - She had to act now
    Where? - Emily had to return to the good memories of her youth

By categorizing what I needed to say and explaining my genre, I was able to pass on my thoughts seamlessly in a conversational manner, instead of stuttering or talking too long, both things agents, and publishers really prefer you not do.

When written, I kept the story idea short and to the point.  Sure, it’s not the perfect pitch, but it did let the intended listener know that the story was a balance of good and evil and had a strong “sense of place.” I also told them the ending. No one who wants to publish your manuscript will want to wait to read the whole thing before knowing the conclusion of the crisis.

Work up a short bio. Publishers, agents and editors need to know a bit about you. Don’t make it long, but make it pertinent to your story.  Here’s mine:

Although a fictional story, many of the happenings in the manuscript are based on true events, as I grew up in the north woods of New Brunswick, Canada, the setting for Run, River Currents. I’ve recently graduated from Wilkes University with my M.F.A., and interned with Etruscan Press. I was a reader for the 2011 James Jones First Novel Award, as well as a judge for the East-West Writing Contest. I travel over 160,000 miles a year teaching business courses at colleges across the nation and am a public speaker and blogger for my company.

By giving your audience a peek at your knowledge base (i.e., based on true events, I grew up there, I have learned the craft of writing and I have read, critiqued others' works, and have a built in base for marketing because of my travel and speaking), you let the person know and understand why you were the best person to write this particular story.

Then you start looking up every single agent, editor and publisher who might want your particular genre. I found the following two sites to be my best resources:

www.fundsforwriters A great blog by Hope Clark. It’s $16 a year for a membership and is filled with loads of contests, job and grant opportunities around the world.
www.writersmarket 
This is another subscription site, but I will tell you, the resources are up-to-date, listing agencies and publishers for your book, all easily found with a simple search engine.

Continue searching for outlets by asking your friends for contacts, or look in the acknowledgement pages of other books in your genre. The editor, agent and publishers are always mentioned there. E-mail a query letter to them. Keep e-mailing. Follow up. Save the many, many rejection letters you’ll get. Someday you’ll get to say, “What did they know?” Then maybe, soon, someone will say yes!

There’s no perfect way to get published. It’s all about hard, hard work. Took me many conferences, many pitches, tons of rejections and a little dumb luck.

So, there you have it. A one-two-three guide for figuring out how to get your first story published. I call it the Simpleton’s Guide, because, after all, I’m still blonde, hairless right now, but blonde. Oh, as a disclaimer, I got published because a friend recommended my work to her publisher!


Ginger Marcinkowski's novel Run, River Currents may be found at http://www.amazon.com/Run-River-Currents-Ginger-Marcinkowski/dp/1935961713/.

Follow her blog at http://gingermarcinkowski.blogspot.ca/.