Home Front


Busy as a groundhog

That's not the way the saying goes, but it's nearly Groundhog Day (which is also my birthday), and it certainly is a busy time. I've got news of a public appearance, my current writing, and a Kindle bargain.

I'm looking forward to my speech Saturday (Feb. 3) at SouthWest Writers. I'm anticipating a big turnout because of the topic: "Nuts and Bolts: The Mechanics of Clear Writing." A nice refresher for all types of writing, this talk is based on the "Become a Better Writer" class I teach at the Honors College at the University of New Mexico. Details of the SWW talk are here.

I'm teaching the Honors seminar again this semester, and the second weekly class is later today. Sixteen students. They seem like a bright bunch.

My latest novel, a crime comedy called COLD CUTS, is with blurbers and beta readers now, and I'm getting great initial feedback. I'm still polishing the final manuscript, but it should be published in May via Amazon, in paperback and Kindle versions.

The Kindle edition of my comic caper FOOL'S PARADISE is currently on sale for only 99 cents. Set in Southern California, FOOL'S PARADISE centers on a bank heist and its aftermath. Check out this limited-time offer here. For those of you who have Kindle Unlimited, nearly all my books are available for free.

Hope your new year is off to a great start!


The Great Indoorsman

I'm not a big fan of snow, which is one reason I live in Albuquerque, where winters tend to be mild. But I like winter because it's a good time to stay indoors, writing and reading.

I know lots of you are seeing deep-freeze temperatures and snow and ice, and I recommend that you stay inside and read my crime novel BANK JOB, currently on sale on Kindle for 99 cents. BANK JOB is in development in Hollywood, and I think it'll make a great movie.

I've been staying busy with the revisions on COLD CUTS, my next crime comedy, which is about people smuggling bologna across the Mexican border. Look for it to be published via Amazon in May.

I'll venture out of the house next week when I start teaching my "Become a Better Writer" class in the Honors College at the University of New Mexico. The class, which I've been teaching for 10 semesters, also forms the basis for a talk I'm giving next month at SouthWest Writers.

On Feb. 3, I'll speak on "Nuts and Bolts: The Mechanics of Good Writing." See details at the SWW website here. Should be fun!


Keeping it brief

I've published 30 books over my long career, but only eight short stories. So, whenever I have a new story in an anthology, it's big news for me.

My latest is a macabre little tale called "Up the Chimney," which opens the new anthology "It's a Weird Winter Wonderland," just out from Coffin Hop Press in both ebook and paperback. The story tells of a farm widow who finds a burglar on her property on Christmas Eve. I enjoyed writing it, and hope you enjoy reading it.

This is the fourth time I've had a short story in an anthology. Many of my short stories are available on Kindle for 99 cents each. These include Payoff, Showdown and Cemetery Plot. My short fiction tends to be gritty, slice-of-life fare, very different from the crime comedy of most of my novels.

I haven't written that many short stories over the years because they're difficult to do well, and I'm usually too focused on whatever long-form project has my attention. But I try to say "yes" whenever I'm offered a spot in an anthology. The deadline guarantees that I'll give the story its due.

Recently, I was contacted about an anthology pegged to the music of Steely Dan, so I know I'll do another short story soon.

In the meantime, revisions continue on COLD CUTS, my new crime novel, which is about people who smuggle bologna across the Mexican border. It's a hoot!

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and happy reading!


All the news that fits

It's been a busy time, and I've got book and movie news to share.

The latest: My 2005 crime novel BANK JOB has been optioned once again for film/TV development. The filmmaker is the same one who turned my novel LONELY STREET into a 2009 movie, and he's got big plans for BANK JOB.

Other filmmakers are looking at a couple of my 30 published books for possible development here in New Mexico. Too soon to talk about details, but please keep your fingers crossed for me.

Over the past two months, I wrote the first draft of my next crime novel, COLD CUTS. It's a funny story about people smuggling bologna across the Mexican border. No, really. Lots of revision to come, but I like this one a lot.

I continue to promote last June's novel, SIDE EYE, which has received some nice reviews. SIDE EYE features the youngest protagonist I've ever written -- an 18-year-old orphan named Josh Nieto.

Helping me with that youthful perspective are the classes I teach at Honors College at the University of New Mexico. I spend several hours a week with bright young people. It's enough to give you hope for the future.

I just learned that one of my former publishers (which still has some of my backlist in print) is filing for bankruptcy. I don't know yet what that means for those books, but I hope to get the rights back and republish them as trade paperbacks, so they stay available in print.

All of my books remain available on Kindle.

The other reason 2017 has been so busy for me is that I helped my parents move into an assisted-living facility in Arkansas, where they live. I've been back there four times this year already, and plan to go again in December. Those time-eating trips (and my increasing animosity toward air travel) are the reason I haven't been to any of the mystery conferences lately. Many of my friends are at Bouchercon in Toronto this week, and I hope they're having a great time. But I'm happy to sit still for the moment.

Happy reading!


Lights, camera . . . talk!

Normally, I can't stand to see myself on TV, and I go out of my way to avoid such appearances. I've got a good face for radio.

But recently, speeches I gave at SouthWest Writers have been videotaped and put on YouTube. I have to admit, I got a kick out of watching myself give these talks. It's the same high-speed patter I use in my teaching at the University of New Mexico, but usually I'm on the inside looking out.

The more recent talk, which was on the writing life and being a full-time author, has been on YouTube since June: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d96E8HQXgs0

The other one was taped last fall at SWW's self-publishing conference. It's here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5v8GwMm1MM

Each of these talks lasts less than an hour, and they're full of good information as well as the occasional laugh line. (There's a cross in the background because SWW meets at a church. That'll make you watch your language, even on a Saturday.)

Hope you enjoy them!