Thursday, 24 December 2020

USING VIDEO TO MARKET BOOKS ON TWITTER

 

Twitter analytics show that tweets including images, graphic image files (GIFs) or video tend to receive more interactions than tweets without. In fact, those with embedded video sequences see 10% more engagement and are six times more likely to be retweeted.

With that in mind, we've launched a short (32 sec.) video teaser for THE LONG ROAD INTO DARKNESS, the Tom Faust crime novel released last year, for inclusion in our regular Twitter promotional tweets.

Credits for the teaser are as follows, in order of appearance:
  • video: Yaroslav Shuraev (Pexels); Ingo Joseph (Pexels);
  • photography: Michael J. McCann (church); Burlingham (Thinkstock; knife);
  • music: Alan Piljak "Empty Days" (FMA).
For those of you who like trivia, I photographed the church in Front of Yonge Township while researching SORROW LAKE, and it was the basis for Tom's church in THE LONG ROAD.

Here's the teaser, for anyone who doesn't have a Twitter account or is curious to see it right now. (You can follow me on Twitter at @MichaelJMcCann1.) Hope you find this interesting!



Monday, 2 November 2020

A DEATH IN WINTER - MARCH & WALKER #5

 

We're excited to announce the launch of A DEATH IN WINTER, the fifth March and Walker Crime Novel.

As the worst storm of the winter settles in, a funeral takes place in the village of Westport for an elderly Toronto crime lord who retired several years ago to the quiet beauty of Rideau Lakes.

Shortly afterward, a man is found beaten to death behind the local hardware store, and OPP Detective Inspector Ellie March discovers that the victim was an important employee of Dante Tassone, heir to the crime lord's vast empire.

Stuck in a snowed-in village with dangerous organized crime figures, Ellie and OPP Detective Constable Kevin Walker search for answers that will connect Tassone and his rebellious son to a violent family struggle threatening the safety of villagers and police as the bodies begin to pile up and a deadly pandemic looms on the horizon.

Fans of the series will be pleased to encounter several new characters who are being added to the lineup, including Detective Sergeant Prez Raintree and intelligence analyst Charlotte McKinley. The narrative style is also slightly different this time out, with parts of the story being told from the points of view of Dante Tassone and his son, Rick.

Interested? You can order the paperback (autographed) from The Plaid Raccoon webstore or from Amazon (not autographed!). If you're in the UK and you shop at Waterstones, you can order it here. Or, order it from your local bookstore!

Prefer an eBook? Purchase it from Kobo or Amazon (US), (Canada), or (UK).

Thank you, all, for your ongoing support of this series. It's greatly appreciated. Stay safe, and stay well.


Saturday, 24 October 2020

A DEATH IN WINTER - SOFT LAUNCH

 

It goes without saying that 2020 has been a weird and upsetting year. My previous blog post was in February, when I talked about writing the next March and Walker Crime Novel during winter, with a winter setting.

Well, that winter ended, the summer passed, and now we find ourselves moving into autumn with another winter on the horizon.

The absence of blog posts can be explained--although not excused--by the fact that I've spent the summer in my newly organized basement office at home, having given up my retreat in Burritt's Rapids in order to limit the number of excursions away from home to, well, almost none.

What have I been doing down there? Writing, of course. A DEATH IN WINTER, the fifth March and Walker Crime Novel, has been completed, edited, and produced.

We (by which I mean The Plaid Raccoon Press) are now ready for a soft launch of this latest title. It will take a few more days to get all the point-of-sale details sorted out but watch this space over the next few days and we'll announce all the exciting details!

Stay safe, and stay well.


Sunday, 23 February 2020

FINALLY--WRITING ABOUT A SEASON, IN-SEASON!

Winter Solstice, 2019 (c) Michael J. McCann
It generally takes about a year for me to produce a new book, from original idea to printed page. As a result, I often find myself working away during the winter months on a manuscript set in the summer, or vice versa. 

Not a problem for an experienced writer who spends the vast majority of his time exploring the inner landscapes of his own mind, of course. Warm sunshine on a bare forearm or a cold wind that whips away one's breath are never far away.

This year, however, I'm fortunate that fiction and fact are working in harmony as I write the first draft of my next manuscript, aptly titled A DEATH IN WINTER. The fifth March and Walker Crime Novel, which will hopefully be released in September, it follows Detective Inspector Ellie March and Detective Constable Kevin Walker as they investigate a murder in the village of Westport while snowbound in the middle of a mid-winter blizzard.

While I was outlining the story last October, I envisioned a three-day snowfall that would hamper driving, make streets and sidewalks almost impossible, and close rural roads at the most inopportune times.

How delightful that while I was working on the story last month, we actually did experience a 30+ cm blizzard that inflicted all those nasty things on us in Leeds-Grenville. All I had to do was step outside for inspiration and a reminder of what winter REALLY feels like.

Will this immediate, frost-laden experience translate into better storytelling? We shall see!



Monday, 6 January 2020

Best Books Reviewed in 2019

Now that 2020 has arrived, a new year and a new decade, we have a chance to look back and contemplate the books we read (and reviewed) in 2019.

As a book critic for the New York Journal of Books, I reviewed a grand total of 40 titles last year, exactly the same number as in 2018. Consistency is a good thing, apparently.

While books are always selected in the hope that they will be good enough to earn a positive review, they occasionally disappoint. 

There were several titles that fell into that category in 2019. James Ellroy's This Storm was unreadable, Jon Land's Strong As Steel was ludicrously bad, and John Lescroart's The Rule of Law did nothing to bolster his status as an A-list bestseller. As well, Helene Tursten's Hunting Game proved that Scandinavian noir gets much better distribution than it deserves.

On the other hand, there were other titles that really rang the bell. So what were the five best books I had the pleasure of reviewing in 2019?

5. Black Sun, by Owen Matthews (July 22; Doubleday)
A debut thriller by a former Moscow bureau chief for Newsweek, this novel takes us back to the intrigue surrounding an attempt in 1961 by the Soviet Union to build a doomsday device that could destroy the world. Well plotted, with engaging characters.
(Read the review.)

4. The Satapur Moonstone, by Sujata Massey (May 13; Soho Crime) 
Massey's series featuring Perveen Mistry, Bombay's only female lawyer in the 1920s, continues to entertain, and this one is a gem. 
(Read the review.)

3. Like Lions, by Brian Panowich (April 30; Minotaur Books)
Panowich's sequel to his acclaimed debut Bull Mountain is terrific. Call it rural noir if you must, but his writing is just plain outstanding.
(Read the review.)

2. The Book of Dreams, by Nina George (April 9; Crown) 
Originally published in Germany in 2012, this novel is a sensitive, insightful exploration of the emotional landscapes of George's characters. Not to be missed. No excuses, now. Read it!
(Read the review.)

1. The Tale Teller, by Anne Hillerman (April 9; Harper)
Hillerman reaches a new level of storytelling in her latest title featuring Joe Leaphorn, Jim Chee, and Bernadette Manuelito. Not just an outstanding crime novel set in the Southwest, it's a reading experience not to be missed.
(Read the review.)

Best wishes to all avid readers out there, and high hopes for a rich crop of books to enjoy in 2020!

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

DOWN THE LONG ROAD AND THROUGH THE GATE!

I'm very pleased to announce that after having traveled its own very long road, THE LONG ROAD INTO DARKNESS has now arrived at publication.

At the moment this is a standalone novel, but two other stories have been sketched out and could be written if the demand for them is there.

THE LONG ROAD tells the story  of Tom Faust, who retires after a successful career as an Ontario Provincial Police homicide investigator. He soon finds himself at loose ends. To give himself something to do and to head off an increased reliance on alcohol, he buys a decommissioned country church in Peterborough County, Ontario, to renovate as a home--his final stop, the place where he'll make his last stand.  However, when he finds a body hanging from the rafters, he realizes his homicide investigation days are far from over.

THE LONG ROAD is available in paperback from Amazon here. Remember, if you participate in Amazon Prime you could get it with free shipping.

You may also order it through any independent bookstore. In Canada, they must be willing to order from an American distributor, which some will not. In Ottawa, however, Perfect Books on Elgin St. and Books on Beechwood will cheerfully get a copy into the store for you.

In the USA, find your nearest independent bookstore through IndieBound and order it there. Here's the link.

In the UK, find the paperback at your local Waterstones.

THE LONG ROAD is also available in eBook format from Amazon here. This time out we've decided to go with Kindle Unlimited, which means if you're a subscriber you may download the book for free. It's also included in Kindle Match, which means if you order the paperback (as a Christmas gift, for example) you may also grab the e-Book version (for yourself, say) at a reduced price.

I hope you'll take a look at this one, and my fingers are crossed that you'll like it.




Thursday, 19 September 2019

THE LONG ROAD INTO DARKNESS

So I've got this manuscript, THE LONG ROAD INTO DARKNESS, that I completed in 2015. I sent out to St. Martin's Press, at their request, in the wake of SORROW LAKE's Hammett Prize nomination.

It sat for a year without a response. I finally discovered the acquiring editor who requested it had disappeared into the ether, so I began shopping it around to agents and editors. It sat for nine months in someone else's Inbox and then received the usual three-to-six months' wait for a rejection, when they bothered to respond.

In 2018 I put it through a vigorous rewrite and editing process and sent it out to Flame Tree Press, who acknowledged it with thanks and promised, as per their website, to reply with a judgment within two months. Seven months later I dared to query, and was told it was still under consideration.

Last Tuesday, Sept. 17, one year to the day after submitting it, I gave up and told them I was obtaining an ISBN for it and publishing it myself. I said a bunch of other stuff in the e-mail, but that's a story for another day.

The point of all this, and yes, there is a point, is that I'm putting it through another revision and editing process because, as many of you know, when a manuscript sits for that long, dates and ages and whatnot grow stale and need to be scaled up to the present. Next week it should be ready to put through the usual publication process.

Thing is, as I go through it once more I realize that this story represents some of the best writing I've ever done. It contains material I've wanted to get out there for a long time. I'm very proud of this thing, and if anyone had ever bothered to actually read it, I'm sure one of them would have made an offer on it.

You folks, the readers, will now be the judge of it. With mixed feelings, I'm giving up on any further attempt to work with a "traditional" publisher.

As I said in my e-mail to Flame Tree, appropriately named, authors are not commodities, like hog jowls or palm oil. We're thoughtful, hard-working people trying to communicate to the world through our work.

This is how it has to be done, I guess.