Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Yup, it's really happening: I'm coming to New Orleans and Georgia!

Totally excited to see so many friends and family from the birth country. And yes, totally excited to know that I've got my ticket back home... ;)

Now, all I have to worry about is earthquakes and, er, volcanoes?!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Not My Bag

Lonesome DoveLonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Beautifully pointless.

Yes, it's sweeping. Yes, it's epic. Yes, it's beautifully written.

My problem is, this sprawling saga of the Old West sprawls entirely too much, with an utterly horrible lack of resolution. The cattle drive that forms (or seems to form- it's hard to tell with this book) the main narrative thrust is really more of a backdrop for a large cast to pursue their character arcs-- sort of.

For all the horses and cattle and gunfire, the battles with outlaws, rustlers and the occasional indian, nothing much really happens. Maybe it was just that literary fashion in the 70's and early 80's to deny the reader a satisfying ending (Styron, Michener, I'm looking at you!), but I felt like I was reading To the Lighthouse: Western Version.

Really, I gave this book three stars because the language is beautiful, the action scenes exciting. Overall, I'm mad because McMurtry's other work led me to hope for more from the story.

For people wandering pointlessly in and out of each other's lives, breaking each other's hearts and betraying their own dreams, their deaths every bit as shabby and pointless as the lives they've led, for that I don't need a book. For that I've got real life.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Last week I left Facebook.

It didn't seem all that big a deal to me-- the site was becoming more work than I felt it was worth. What surprised me was the reaction from real-life friends and acquaintances. Shock and denial were the order of the day:

'But how will you keep up with friends and family abroad?' 'How will you tell people what's going on with you?' 'You need it to let people know you're okay in an earthquake!' 'But now you won't know about events and stuff!'

The reactions were sudden, strong. I was amazed. Every one of the points above was raised more than once, by different people. Oddly, the wording was often quite similar. (Also odd, the cautions about losing touch with far-off people came from those friends I see most often!) It got me thinking...

I'm an intensely private person. I like to let my art and writing speak for me. The idea of sharing my business with the world at large holds no appeal. I went on Facebook to sell my work. To preserve at least a few scraps of privacy, my presence on the site was all persona, like the face I show at a cocktail party. And like spending too much time at a cocktail party, it made me weary.

At the point where I felt Facebook was neither a) fun, or b) effective, pulling the plug seemed only natural.

Friends and family have my email. If I want the world to know what's up with me, I've got a (sadly neglected) website, a blog, a twitter account. I can use any and all of these to let y'all know I survived an earthquake. Or you can simply remember that I happen to be Unbreakable... ;-)

And hell, events, you can text. Or kick it old school and, you know, just tell me.

Sure, Facebook puts all that in one place, but I'm not terribly fond of that place. The fault may be my own, but I'd say it's a fault common to all writers and artists on Facebook:

If you're trying to attract new customers (and I don't care if you call it 'marketing', 'leveraging', 'platform', whatever. We're talking about more customers), you NEED to have a profile full of strangers. After all, your mom's already going to buy your book-- it's new eyeballs you need.

This means 'friend-whoring' like crazy, then hoping your posts are entertaining enough to keep some of those new eyes coming back. Whether you go for comedy, politics, sex, samples, whatever, your goal is to entertain so you can slip those bits of self-promotion in there and, you know, sell! :)

My tattoo shop's Facebook page took over this function for my art. My art profile atrophied. My writing profile, I ended up with 500 friends, mostly other writers trying to sell to me. I freely admit, I never got the hang of marketing my writing on Facebook. ( A thought, writers: if your profile isn't full of strangers, ahem, new readers, it's social, not professional.)

At any rate, my profiles weren't selling for me, and without attracting new customers, I had very little use for sharing my life. It's got me feeling a little Travis McGee...

I'm not sure I fit into this Brave New, Thoroughly Public, World. I see no point in sharing day to day trivia and minutiae. When I don't feel like accepting calls (for instance, reading, writing or relaxing) I turn off my damn phone. If there's something personal I want you to know, I will tell you.

Seems simple to me. I do realize I've given up the pleasure of seeing photos of myself drunk and vomiting out the back of a bus, but hey, there were bound to be tradeoffs, right? ;)

Update: Angie pointed me to this link in the comments. Jason Scott is smart, eloquent and informed. His articulate hatred for Facebook leaves me thinking that little itch between my shoulderblades really was a target on my back...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Heart, Torn

I live in my favorite city on Earth. At least, I used to.

Christchurch is big enough for culture, entertainment and the arts, small enough to stay clean and friendly and easy to get around. We've got a hell of a lot of green spaces, and they're woven into the fabric of the city, not tacked onto the ass-end of some new housing tract like an afterthought.

I love our city center. Coming from the States, I've seen too many commercially-driven purgatories, concrete canyons that empty out at 5pm. Or flat-out ghost towns, boarded-up shop fronts and For Rent signs gathering dust after people abandoned their towns for shopping malls and box stores out in the burbs.

In Christchurch the city center is vital, alive. People come here to shop and work, yes. But they also come to meet friends, hang out, see and be seen. Thousands come from all over the world to gape at our lovely, historical, beautiful city, and we love them for it. Yeah, we have shopping malls in the suburbs and that rubbish, but 'town' is our center of gravity. It's the first place you think of when you want to get something done, find some unusual item, enjoy a great meal. Ask anyone from late teens to middle age what they're doing for the weekend and the answer is likely to be 'just go into town, ae.'

This city has a heart, vital and beating and alive.

At least, it used to.

Way back in September (funny to think it's not quite a year yet-- it seems decades), we were all so grateful that so much was spared. Some really great stuff was lost, but for a shake that size, every damn one of us knew we'd gotten off light.

Boxing Day hammered us pretty hard, but it also left the bones of our city unscathed. No major buildings fell, no loss of life. It seemed like this was how it was going to be: scary, but doable.

February changed everything. Forever.

The quake itself was bad. The hours and days immediately after were horrible. The damage, the loss of life, the sewage-mud and flooding, not having food, water, sanitation, power. It was a bad time, but humans are built to weather bad luck and trouble.

Where I struggle is with the loss of my city. Simply put, town is gone. The beautiful heritage buildings I loved are in ruins. Our iconic cathedral is destroyed, along with most of the city's shopping, nightclubs and restaurants. We had a square, a real public square in the center of the city where people actually gathered. Now it's the center of the red zone. Our CBD lies behind barbed wire. The only ones allowed in are demolition crews. Every time I stop in front of the fences, I can see a few blocks further, piles of rubble and and bare land where my city once stood.

They say the rebuild might take twenty years.

Christchurch still has plenty of people in it. They still go about their days, only now in the suburbs. Businesses (including my beloved Scorpio Books) have relocated, and people are getting used to the 'new normal'. There's still plenty of activity in my city, but the heart's been torn out of it.

When I look at my city, I see my reflection.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Spinning Plates

For some time now, (since the loss of the Tiny Dynamo Course Correction System, in fact) I've felt like that old vaudeville act where the guy spins plates on the ends of sticks. No sooner does he get one going than one at the end starts to slip.

(What can I tell you, in those days we thought we were having fun-- even if the most you got in a strip club was a glimpse of ankle. Those penny nickelodeons ruined everything. Now you kids get off my lawn.)

There's tattooing. There's running the shop, a seperate job in itself. There's writing first drafts and cleaning up older work for release. There's that unavoidable maintenance that keeps my life from falling apart. (You know, paying bills and doing dishes and bathing. Stuff like that. Now get off my lawn.) There's martial arts classes to keep my body from falling apart. (And yes, I do realize the irony that I am constantly bruised and sore in the name of good health.)

And of course there are sundry other plates that would love to be spun, if I can only keep the big ones from falling.

Well, last February the whole crazy act came crashing down around my ears. Which, it turns out, was a good thing. With fresh crockery and unbroken sticks I'm back on stage.

First, I went with a smaller tattoo shop. Lower overheads, easier management, fewer tattoos necessary to pay the bills: that side of my life spins a hell of a lot easier now.

My martial arts school moved way the hell out to the other side of town, so that one's a harder spin, but worth it.

The writing is a struggle. I've got a first draft (working title WRECKING BALL) almost finished, but it moves in fits and starts. Mainly because I decided this year I needed to focus on getting more stuff up on Kindle. Which means revisions and rewrites. A lot of them. Right now I'm focusing on the sequel to Poison Door, no idea when it'll be ready, but I'm working on it.

Of course, I've got the graphic novels too: three more of those I own the rights to, and fans old and new asking for them. Especially in print. Which isn't that much harder, but it ain't easy, either. Basically, I just need a whole bunch of hours parked in front of a screen tidying up my scans of the original art. A whole bunch of hours I don't have.

And self-promotion, don't even get me started. Every time I post a bit on the Kindle boards, or do a new review on Goodreads, or do anything whatsoever to let the world know I'm alive, my sales spike. I bet if I did that stuff regular-like, they'd stay up. But the fact is, I don't have the time right now.

Hell, my old tattoo shop's wreckage is in my garage and I haven't had time to cart it to the dump. My garden's more weeds than plants, and due to lack of vacuuming in order to walk across the lounge it's sometimes necessary to brave knee-high drifts of cat hair.

I'm trying to get some of those plates up and spinning, before I end up leaving f soap-carvings in a hollow tree for the neighbor's kids....

Ha, like I'd ever have the time to carve soap.

(Now get off my lawn.) :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

One Man's Hope

So last week was something of a crazy one in this Brave New World of publishing. On the one hand, bestselling author Barry Eisler turned down a half-million dollar deal to self publish. On the other, million-dollar self publisher Amanda Hocking inked a two million dollar deal to get OUT of self publishing.

Folks all over the internet are trying to figure out what's going on. Things are changing, and in a big way, but none of us truly knows how.

I don't have answers. But I do have hope.

When I started writing, I knew what I was getting into. I knew I'd struggle to break in, to stand out in a crowded field. That I'd have to write my ass off to get an agent, to stand out in a field crowded with wannabes. That every year publishing houses face hundreds of agented submissions for fewer and fewer debut slots.

I knew that getting published was only the first step: The death of the midlist made the writing life a Darwinian struggle, brutal and fierce.

I knew I'd have to do my own promotion. That I'd have to turn in manuscripts polished to the point they barely required an editor's attention. That I'd have to take the cover and the title I was given or run the risk of being labeled 'difficult'.

And I knew that for all my own effort, my fate was still out of my hands. My publisher could spring for coop enough to make me a bestseller, or a negligent decision on sell-through could doom me to a life of declining sales. A title readers wanted could be allowed to go out of print.

I knew all this, and I went for it anyway. I danced around the room when I got my agent, and I took the hit calmly when my novel was ultimately rejected by marketing (that's right, marketing) for it's lack of American focus.

After all, the game was rigged, but it was the only game in town.

Ebooks are changing that game. And none of us quite knows how.

But I have my hopes.

I'm not hoping for the demise of Big 6 publishing. That's actually the last thing I want. Like JD Rhoades, I don't believe that a cabal of three (Amazon, Smashwords and B&N) is guaranteed to treat writers any better than the cabal of six.

Novelists have never been very good at collective bargaining. Screenwriters have a strong union that fights for pay rates, royalties, etc. Novelists, not so much. As long as the oligarchy hung together and enough of us were willing to take a bad deal, just so long as it was a deal, bad deals were going to be the rule.

I hope ebooks give us a real alternative. For a long time now, the Big 6 have acted like a bullying husband who treats his wife like dirt because what's she gonna do without him? She's got nowhere else to go.

Well, now we do have somewhere else to go. Ebooks are already a viable alternative, and the market's got a lot of room to grow yet. Some folks are making plenty of money. Some, like me, are growing an audience by word of mouth, something I wouldn't be able to do in today's mainstream climate. And yeah, most are still sinking beneath the waves. After all, success is never guaranteed.

My hope, my great hope for the future of our industry, is that the ebook revolution will reform the Big 6.

They can't expect to act they way they have and survive.

It won't happen overnight. Likely, there will be a lot more pain before they change their ways. As ebooks find their natural, lower price point (and they will, whether publishers like it or not), they'll need to offer a better deal. After all, why should an author like CS Harris (for whom ebooks are ALREADY a quarter of her sales) accept 14.5% of $2.99 or even $4.99 when she could self-publish and take 70%? Yeah, she'd lose a lot of print sales going POD-- enough that right now the move doesn't make sense.

But there is a tipping point there, and it's coming fast.

At the point mainstream authors can make more self-publishing, with accurate and up-to-date accounting and no 'reserves against return', publishers will have no choice but to change their game.

Of course, they probably won't. Not right away. I anticipate a bit of bullying, bluster and outright pleading to keep profitable authors in their stable, but when the losses get bad enough, I hope we see a change.

Equitable royalties on ebooks. Small-batch, POD-style printing to keep booksellers stocked without carrying extra inventory (like Toyota's just-in-time manufacturing). Term licenses for titles instead of the current 'forever and ever'. And services offered that actually add value.

Imagine a world where publishing houses changed their game to actually court writers, to offer us good reasons to go with them instead of going it alone...

I can hope.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fleeting and Fickle

Delay not; swift the flight of fortune's greatest favours.

So a month ago, February 21st, I had this life. I was the reasonably proud owner of one the biggest tattoo studios in Christchurch. I was booked out for a month and struggling to find time to keep up with my other commitments.

I had stopped smoking. Spent four nights a week swinging fists and sticks at the gym. My waistline thanked me.

My book Poison Door had somehow climbed to #23 on Amazon.UK's bestseller chart for 'Female Sleuths'. I still have no idea how that happened. Just, overnight, the Brits started buying the hell out of my book.

The next day, everything changed.

Ten minutes to one, I was waiting for the mobile espresso van to bring me my midday shot of Brain Enhancer before I went to bank the month's rent.

A minute later I was standing behind the counter, surfing one a floor that wouldn't hold still. The sounds were deafening: the building rattling, glass crashing, one of my artists screaming.

When it stopped I got the upset girl outside, went back in to start cleaning. Enough equipment was broken or damaged that I knew we'd have to close for the day.

More people started yelling. Something about 'flooding' and 'trapped'. A dark wet line appeared through the carpet. I went out front, pulled the sidewalk-sign in and locked the door. Brown water was rushing out from between sidewalk and building. On the other side of the wall, it was filling my front room. The building was still rumbling. Aftershocks made cracking sounds in the roof.

Out back, more water gushed from under the building. In the time it took to lock the front door and leave through the back, the nose of my car had been buried in wet brown mud.

I snatched a cigarette off the first smoker I saw.

I got three weeks off work. Unpaid.

Poison Door sank like a stone from the UK charts.

Now, it's a month later.

Zyban's cutting the smoking habit- in just over a week I've gone from a pack and a half to five. My gym's reopened, now almost an hour from my house. I'll travel that distance, just to lose the results of four weeks of fried food. (Most nights I'd just stare at the fridge, stare at the stove, and go buy fish and chips.)

My new shop is open. The new place is smaller, more intimate, and the rent isn't such an incredible stone around my neck. I can't help but be aware that in a city where half the storefronts fell down and competition for those still standing is fierce, I was wise to hustle and a little bit lucky too.

And in the UK, Poison Door has sold two copies. That's right, two. I don't know why, any more than I know why it sold so many in February. Sales in the US are steady and growing, but that weird spike in England... just baffling.

In times of trouble and times of joy, I read the Stoic philosophers. They help me 'meet with fortune and disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same.' And seeing as I opened with a quote from one of my favorites, I'm going to go out with him too. Especially poignant in light of the tragedy in Japan:

In the presence of death, we must continue to sing the song of life.

We must be able to accept death and go from its presence better able to bear our burdens and to lighten the load of others.

Out of our sorrows should come understanding.

Through our sorrows, we join with all of those before who have had to suffer and all of those who will yet have to do so.

Let us not be gripped by the fear of death. If another day be added to our lives, let us joyfully receive it, but let us not anxiously depend on our tomorrows.

Though we grieve the deaths of our loved ones, we accept them and hold on to our memories as precious gifts.

Let us make the best of our loved ones while they are with us, and let us not bury our love with death.


Thursday, March 3, 2011


I'll write a little something about my earthquake experience soon.

In the meantime , here's my very first interview, with Avery DeBow. Her book Resonance is a dark urban fantasy with plenty of action, cool magic and a totally kick-ass punk sensiblity. It belongs on the shelf right next to my favorites in the genre: Charles Lindt's The Blue Girl and the work of Jim Butcher. Without further ado, heeeeeeeere's Avery!

  1. One thing that really struck me about RESONANCE was the magic. You've go

    t this really well-developed worldview. Tell me, did you sit down with heaps of notebooks and map out all the 'rules' of your world, or did you make it up on the fly and smooth out the rough edges in editing?

I have lots of books on magic(k), demons, witchcraft, and any other supernatural/occult topic you can imagine. I spent a good deal of time reading through them, picking up bits of inspiration. The rules sort of solidified from the bits I liked best. I write everything on index cards, so I had a file box nearby for reference as I worked to keep me on track. Sometimes, though, an idea had to be scrapped or reworked because I’d get to a point where two of my rules contradicted one another. Thank all of the gods in the books I just mentioned for Search and Replace.

2. Resonance is one hell of an angry young woman. How much of her is in Avery, and vice versa?

Avery was once an unmanageably angry person. Then came the exorcism named Resonance. Now Avery is mostly a manageably angry person who is allowed to interact with others on a supervised basis. The addition of roller derby to her schedule of activities has helped greatly.

3. Tell us a little bit about your creative process.

First, I set a La-Z-Boy recliner on fire. Then, there’s the hula skirt, two forks, and poster of Johnny Depp...

Really, it’s just research books, index cards and playing the “What if” game with my husband until he’s ready to strangle me. Example: (As we’re making dinner) “What if Resonance has to join some freaky circus and walk the tightrope? And what if the tightrope is really some portal to another reality and she slips through? And what if the clowns over there carry these tiny dogs that bark in a key that makes you lose control of your body? And what if…?” This goes on until his shoulders slump and his eyes glaze and his soul shrivels into a tiny, hard raisin. I then lapse into chastised silence until it’s quarter past midnight and we’re lying in bed and I just can’t hold it in any longer and blurt out, “And what if…?”

4. So, Kindle... how did you find your publishing experience? Heartbreaks? Headaches? A pure joy?

A ridiculously long, poke-me-in-the-eye-with-a-hot-fork process (hmm, seems I’m really stuck on the forks this morning. Sorry. I haven’t had breakfast, yet). It was like running a marathon—horrible while I was doing it, and yet I’m somehow fondly looking back on it.

Despite the fact I knew next to nothing about coding, I wanted to code the book myself, so it would be as professional in appearance as possible. I bought an eBook on the subject, proceeded to understand not a word of it and then hit up my friend and author/coder Natasha Fondren for help. She was very supportive and kind the whole way through, and was able to force computery knowledge through the thick, technology-resistant coating on my brain, but I suspect she’s now bald and wearing a fancy white jacket with wraparound sleeves.

There were two moments in the whole process I cherish. The first was when we were talking about inserting images and I just couldn’t understand how one could “code” an image. Natasha had walked me through some related coding and told me to save my images inside the file’s folder. When I opened the document on Explorer to preview a chapter I had been working on, there the pictures were, right where they needed to be. In a heartbeat I went from Zoolander monkeying with the computer to actually understanding how those images were linked to the lines we’d written. Sad, I know, but a high point for me, nonetheless. The second was the moment I had the final PRC file. I opened it on my Kindle app. and it looked gorgeous. In an instant, my weeks of seemingly hopeless bumbling became proud gratification.

5. That first morning I saw someone bought my book, I cracked open a bottle of champagne. How did you feel when you saw those first sales? How did you celebrate?

Not too excited at first; I knew it was my dad. That’s not to say I wasn’t grateful, but his support wasn’t exactly a surprise. Then, I found a mystery sale, one I couldn’t track since I hadn’t announced the publication. That one made me pretty happy.

I haven’t celebrated, yet. I have a sales goal in mind. Once I reach that number, I will mark the occasion with the thing I’ve promised myself for these six or so years since I started writing Resonance—a very large tattoo.

You know, I think I might know some writer guy who does ink. I’ll have to check on that.

6. What's next for DeBow?

More. Hopefully, lots of the more. Harmony, the sequel to Resonance is underway. I’m looking at early next year as a release. There’s also the novelization of Junket City, which was my play-along, Mad-Lib style story I wrote in weekly segments on my blog for half of last year. After that, there are a couple of started manuscripts waiting in the wings I’d like to revisit and put out there. I’m really hoping for a DeBow blitzkrieg--my books flapping inescapably all over the Internet. I don’t know quite why they’d be flapping, but it sounds good.

  1. And finally, do you have any advice for other writers following in your footsteps?

I’m in driving-through-a-blizzard-at-night-mode. I’m creeping along until someone has the nerve to pass me and then I’ll just follow their tail lights to safety.

Go buy Resonance, right now. You can find it here! :)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thank You, Rudyard

So yeah, earthquake. Again. This time, it hit close to the city, in the middle of the day. The devastation is pretty goddamn insane.

Now, as so often in life, I've taken my cues from the words of Rudyard Kipling. I've spent most of my life trying to 'fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' distance run', and quite a bit this last year I've had to learn how 'being lied about, not to deal in lies.'

This week, with the flooding of my tattoo shop and the condemnation of its building, I know I have to 'see the things I gave my life to broken, and stoop to build 'em up with worn-out tools.'

So once again, thank you Rudyard Kipling. Your words guide me through life...


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

And as far as that sixty seconds' worth goes, not once this week have I missed my daily word count.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Dollar's Worth of Poison

Poison Door went live today. You can buy it on Amazon, Smashwords or, once Smashwords goes Premium with it, just about everywhere else.

This book has always been near and dear to my heart. It was my third prose novel, and the first I wrote in what was truly my own voice. Poison Door was also the novel that got me my agent and gained me a few fans among editors when it was being shopped. It came close to publication, except that a certain marketing department felt American readers wouldn't identify with New Zealand characters.

Now readers get to make up their own minds.

And to make matters that little bit easier for them, I'm bringing Poison Door out at an introductory price of just .99 cents! Seems like a sweet deal to me: Spend a buck and I'll make you a fan for life. :)

Anyway, for those of you wondering what the book's about:
One tough cop.
One vicious killer
A fourteen year old girl caught in between.
When their lives meet, nobody wins...


A Noir thriller, dark and violent, packed with action and laced with steamy sex.

Sarah Crane is one tough cop. In a country where police don't carry guns but criminals do, she has to rely on the strength of her wits and the skill of her bare hands. Faced with a series of brutal murders and the disappearance of young women no one else seems to miss, she'll stop at nothing to get to the truth. In troubled young Michelle, Sarah sees a reflection of her own dark past.

Tommy Knowles is a vicious killer. From a London orphanage to the shores of New Zealand, he has risen from life on the streets to control this small country's heroin trade. Now his own success has led him to the edge of disaster. To secure the weapons he needs in the fight for his life, Tommy will trade as many innocent lives as necessary to secure his survival.

Michelle Swanston is fourteen and in danger. Safer on the Christchurch city streets than she is in her own home, Michelle's night wanderings take her into a hell worse than any she ever imagined. With no way of knowing who she can trust, no one else she can rely on, this terrified young girl is determined not to go down without a fight...

What are you waiting for? Go buy it!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Free Ebook Download





That's right (in case you didn't guess from the headlines), I'm giving away one of my thrillers ABSOLUTELY FREE!

For the next two weeks, all you have to do is send me an email (steve_malley at paradise dot net dot nz) and I'll send you a copy of Poison Door, free of charge. Whether you read your ebooks on Amazon's Kindle, a Sony eReader, the Barnes and Nobles Nook, a Kobo, an iPad or even your PC or Mac, I'll send you a copy of Poison Door in the right format for your reader.

And don't worry if you like the feel of old-fashioned paper in your hands. There's no need to feel left out-- just take the PDF copy and print it out!

What's Poison Door about, you ask? In brief:

One tough cop.

One vicious killer

A fourteen year old girl caught in between.

When their lives meet, nobody wins...


Poison Door is exciting. I write suspense, and I write it well-- be ready to turn pages faster and faster right up to the end.

Poison Door is scary. This is a Noir thriller, a dark and violent story packed with action and laced with steamy sex.

Sarah Crane is one tough cop. In a country where police don't carry guns but criminals do, she has to rely on the strength of her wits and the skill of her bare hands. Faced with a series of brutal murders and the disappearance of young women no one else seems to miss, she'll stop at nothing to get to the truth. In troubled young Michelle, Sarah sees a reflection of her own dark past.

Tommy Knowles is a vicious killer. From a London orphanage to the shores of New Zealand, he has risen from life on the streets to control this small country's heroin trade. Now his own success has led him to the edge of disaster. To secure the weapons he needs in the fight for his life, Tommy will trade as many innocent lives as necessary to secure his survival.

Michelle Swanston is fourteen and in danger. Safer on the Christchurch city streets than she is in her own home, Michelle's night wanderings take her into a hell worse than any she ever imagined. With no way of knowing who she can trust, no one else she can rely on, this terrified young girl is determined not to go down without a fight...

Sound like something you might like to read? Great! Just drop me an email and I'll send you a copy!

There is one catch. I want you to review my book.

Poison Door goes live in two weeks, and I want to do everything I can to make it rise in the search rankings. Love it, hate it, all I ask is that you tell the world. Amazon reviews are great, same with other sites where fine ebooks are sold. Review it on Goodreads or Facebook or your blog-- anywhere the world at large is going to see it.

But all that's not for a couple of weeks yet. Right now, you send me an email (or even just leave your email in the comments) and I'll send you one heck of page-turner!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Monday, January 3, 2011

Memory Lane

So, I recently re-read my ebook, Crossroad Blues. I wanted to see how it played out on Kindle, correct any formatting errors, etc. I did find a few (corrected now), which was good.

Thing is, I also found something more.

I started out reading with my editor's hat on. But as the book progressed, I found myself actually sucked in to my own work. It was a strange experience: on the one hand, I wrote the damn thing. On the other, I couldn't wait to see what happened next.

Not to pat myself on the back, but Crossroad Blues hums. I love the pace of it, the action, the murderous intensity of Maeve, the overwhelming arrogance of Jack Terraboone and the sheer creepy monstrosity that is Harlan Winters.

I read that book, and I hated the novel I'm working on. Right now I'm lurching from scene to scene. I can see revelations coming, but I have to write my way through where I am before I can get there. If where I am even leads me there at all. My current novel is nothing like the streamlined mayhem of Crossroad Blues.

And then I remembered:

At one point, Jack Terrabonne had a wife. She was the real genius, stifled by her husband's success and terrified of his fixer, Harlan.

At one point, Kane was in a love triangle with Maeve and Beth. Sometimes he was with Maeve and attracted to Beth. Sometimes vice versa.

At one point, Harlan Winters was a dapper little gray man, sharp and slick and looking to capitalize on his employer's indiscretions.

By the end of the book, things changed...

Jack's wife left. There were some great scenes between her and Harlan, real scary stuff. But as Harlan developed, I realized there was no way in hell he'd keep his hands off something he wanted. She shows up off-stage as a soon-to-be-ex, with a younger boyfriend, a hit album and a scandalous photo spread in (I think it was) Vanity Fair. It was the least I could do for a woman who suffered so much only to be written out.

As Kane revealed himself, I realized I was writing a Western. He's the classic cool-eyed stranger in town, a gunslinger who doesn't pack a gun. He was honest and decent and upright, a solid moral point in a wicked, wicked world.

That guy couldn't be in a love triangle. I lost scenes where he met Maeve and traveled with her for a time. Where he found himself disgusted by her wickedness (back then she wanted to hook a rich man, which is how she fell afoul of Jack) and was increasingly attracted to local girl Beth. I lost something like 30,000 words of that plotline.

And Harlan. What to say about Harlan...

He started out dapper and smooth. In those days, Jack's sexual appetites led to the death of the French girl and Harlan stepped in. He covered up the crime and began to extort Jack for his own purposes. There were some mighty nice scenes where the balance of power in that house shifted.

And I cut them all.

The Harlan who stepped up about halfway through the book was half based on a ruthless predator in my family, and half based on a family friend who used to babysit me-- a man now wanted for questioning in the rape and murder of one of his neighbors.

What I'm getting at is, Crossroad Blues came to be streamlined. It grew into something fast-paced and coherent.

This memory, this process, helped me. My current novel is nowhere near such a mess as that one was- and look how that turned out!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Just for Angie

Angie said in the comments that she'd heard of escrima/kali but hadn't seen it.

Turns out, she probably has:

It's all over the Bourne movies. (The jerks disabled embedding, so you actually have to, like, click on it.)

The arts also feature in Fight Club, Tomb Raider 2 and The Book of Eli... :)