Books and a nice drive

Hey, readers in New Mexico! Take a drive to the East Mountains this Saturday, enjoy the scenery and visit with a couple of local authors.

Thriller writer Joseph Badal and I will be at the Old Schoolhouse Gallery from 1 to 3 p.m., signing books and telling lies. The gallery is at 12504 Hwy. 14, near the turnoff to the ski area.

I'll be selling paperback and hardcover books from among my 25 titles and talking about my recent plunge into e-book publishing. All five of Joe's thrillers will be available.

After the event, we're adjourning to a restaurant next door for drinks and more lies.

Y'all come!


Big e-book price markdown!

Starting today, all my e-books are $2.99 or less. That's 25 titles, including my latest novel, the hilarious mystery A BOX OF PANDORAS, which came out in June. All $2.99 or less.

Kindle users can see my e-books here. If you use another brand of e-reader, go see my page at Smashwords here. Prices are going down at Nook and other retailers as well, but those changes sometimes take a week or more to appear. Remember: you don't need an e-reader to enjoy bargain e-books. The Kindle app is free for PCs, smartphones, etc.

All of us who are publishing e-books have experimented with price points, and I've come to believe $2.99 is the way to go for novel-length fiction. It's only half as much as a paperback, and readers will risk that much on an unfamiliar author, I think. Because the royalty rate is so much better on e-books, the author makes about $2 per e-book at $2.99, about the same as on a $24 hardcover published the traditional way.

My short stories will continue to be 99 cents, which again seems to be the going rate. I've published two new ones in the past month: SHOWDOWN and FOUND MONEY. Enjoyed writing both, and I've started sketching out another one. Short stories seem much more rewarding now that there's a guaranteed market via e-books.

I'm moderating a panel Friday at the Tony Hillerman mystery writing seminar in Santa Fe. The 9 a.m. panel, which is on writing humor, also features New Mexico authors Michael Orenduff and Richard Peck. Looking forward to it.

Now back to writing!


New short story debuts

Encouraged by the response to SHOWDOWN, I've published another new short story on Kindle and Smashwords. It's called FOUND MONEY, and I'm real proud of it.

FOUND MONEY is the suspenseful tale of a briefcase full of drug money, how it's lost and found, and how many lives it takes down along the way. The story was especially challenging to write because it's all in one character's voice, one half of a conversation between cop and crook. I had to cover a lot of backstory in very few pages, and still have a twist in the present.

Give FOUND MONEY a try. I think you'll like it. And it's only 99 cents.

Thanks to e-books, I'll write more short stories and novellas in the future. The market tilts toward shorter works now, after years of going the other direction. Plus, I enjoy writing them. Short stories used to seem so much harder than novels, but I started thinking of them as one-act plays, and that's made it easier.

I've started sketching out a new novel, but it's in the earliest stages right now. Doubt I'll get much done on it this week because I've got lots of chores and meetings, and a stack of papers to grade for my University of New Mexico class. But some part of my brain is always working on the next book.

Looking forward to Halloween. We get lots of trick-or-treaters at our Albuquerque home because the neighborhood park has a "pumpkin glow." Last year, we gave out 10 pounds of candy. One of my chores today is to buy 11 pounds of candy, so I'll be sure to have leftovers for me.


New short story

Two old men sit down together once a week to play gin rummy. They've met for these games at the farm for thirty years. One night, one man reveals a terrible secret from long ago. Revealing a secret always has consequences.

That's the opening premise of SHOWDOWN, my new suspense short story, available at Kindle, Smashwords and soon at Nook and Apple and the rest. It's only 99 cents. Please give it a try and let me know what you think.

I wrote SHOWDOWN after sending my new bank robber novel STASH THE CASH off to my agent. He loved the manuscript, but asked for changes, including a new, grittier title. I'm now feverishly working on the rewrite of  The Novel Formerly Known as STASH THE CASH. It's even darker than before.

The new working title is DUKE CITY SPLIT. You like?

My most recent novel-length e-book, A BOX OF PANDORAS, is still selling briskly, thank you very much. It's gotten excellent customer reviews, except for one complaining about the few scattered curse words. Apparently not allowed in cozies. Damn.

My "New Noir" class at the University of New Mexico is keeping me hopping, adding to my usual reading load. And I'm reading and planning for next semester's Honors class, a first-time offering called "Become a Better Writer."

My SouthWest Writers mystery-writing seminar last weekend went very well. Sixteen students managed to stay awake while I talked faster than an auctioneer for four hours. We all went away exhausted, yet energized about writing.

Busy, busy, busy. Next public appearance is at the Tony Hillerman Writing Seminar in November in Santa Fe. I'm popping in on Nov. 9 to preside over a humor panel with fellow New Mexico authors Richard Peck and Michael Orenduff. Should be a hoot and a half.

Now stop reading this and go read SHOWDOWN.


My latest novel for FREE

For three days only, my new novel is FREE, exclusively on Kindle.

A BOX OF PANDORAS is a comic mystery about murder striking a film festival in Santa Fe. It was published June 26, and it's gotten several five-star reviews on Amazon, selling as a $3.99 e-book.

Now, it's FREE. Supposedly, giving away a new book moves a lot of copies and gets people to talking about it and gets Amazon's sales algorithms engorged and perky. So I'm trying the free promotion. Just this once.

Hurry. The giveaway ends at midnight on Monday. Click here: amzn.to/T98PkQ

You don't need an e-reader to enjoy e-books. The Kindle Reader App is free for PCs, smartphones, etc. Check it out!


Coming up for air

Whew, it's been a busy time around our house. I've got a little gap before it gets really busy again, so a quick update.

I've finished the latest draft of my new manuscript, a crime novel called STASH THE CASH, and it's on Kelly's desk now. One more round of editing, then it goes to my agent in New York. Once it's done, I hope to write a short story or two before I plunge into the next novel.

The fall semester at the University of New Mexico starts Aug. 20, and I've got some more prep work to do for the class I'm teaching in the Honors Program: "The New Noir: Contemporary Crime Fiction for Today's Dark Times." Looking forward to introducing a new crop of students to noir stories.

We've had lots of company at our house the past few weeks. A dear friend from California visited for a few days, then both our sons (plus one girlfriend) came to visit and to attend Corona Days, the annual homecoming festival in Kel's hometown. It was great seeing so many relatives and friends there.

Amongst all this fun, I've been busy promoting A BOX OF PANDORAS, my comic mystery that came out exclusively on Kindle at the end of June. It's selling well, and has gotten splendid reviews on Amazon. Click here to see more.

In July, I gave speeches about e-books at both SouthWest Writers and the local Sisters in Crime chapter. Big turnouts, and the talks were well-received.

Coming up: I'm giving a half-day workshop on mystery writing for SouthWest Writers on Sept. 29. Details here. I'm also on a humor panel on Nov. 9 at the Tony Hillerman Writing Conference in Santa Fe. Click here for details. Looking forward to these events!


Talking mystery e-books

ABQ Friends: I'm speaking on e-books and self-publishing next Tuesday (7/24) at a meeting of Croak & Dagger, the Albuquerque chapter of Sisters in Crime. The 7 p.m. meeting is at a police substation way up by Montgomery and Tramway.

Directions and more info at their website: http://www.croak-and-dagger.com/index.html

This talk will cover some of the same ground as last Tuesday's speech at SouthWest Writers, but with an emphasis on the mystery and thriller genres.

Admission is free!


Talking e-books

"The e-book revolution" is the topic when I speak to SouthWest Writers next Tuesday (7/17).

I'll discuss how to self-publish in e-books, including the nuts and bolts of turning your manuscript into an acceptable e-book, and some of the trends in independent publishing. Authors are taking control of their own work, and it's producing interesting results!

I'll also read a little from my new Kindle book, A BOX OF PANDORAS.

The SouthWest Writers meeting starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday at its usual location at 5540 Eubank NE in Albuquerque. Click here for more info about the meeting and about SouthWest Writers..

Hope to see you there!


Hothouse Flowers, Part II

This is the second half of a short story featuring characters from my new mystery novel, A BOX OF PANDORAS. If you enjoy the story, try the novel, which is available on Kindle-only for now. Click here to see more.

The front door opened without a knock, and Nannette blew inside, scrawny and brittle, a scarecrow in a pantsuit. Her puckered face flushed when she saw us standing by the orchid.
"We were just admiring this beautiful plant," I said. "Mitzi said someone gave it to you?"
Nannette glanced outside before she closed the door. Sounded like other cars were arriving, but I couldn't see the long driveway from where I stood. Just endless plains out every window.
"I can't talk about that," Nannette said as she crossed the cluttered living room.
"Why not?"
"It's a church thing."
Nannette attends Wildweed Community Church, one of those strict evangelical outfits where you're guilty until proven innocent and it's perfectly acceptable to shout during Sunday services. They're a busy congregation, knocking on doors at dinnertime all over Pandora. We Presbyterians do not approve of such fervent intrusion. A shameful number of us refer to Nannette's bunch as the "Wild-Eyed Community Church."
"You a priest now?" I said. "You hold people's confessions secret?"
Nannette flushed redder, and there was venom in her narrow eyes.
"I wouldn't expect you to understand," she said. "You've never kept a secret in your life."
I couldn't have been more shocked if she'd slapped my face. I'm perfectly capable of keeping a secret. If anyone in this room had a big mouth, it was Mitzi Tyner, which she proved at that moment by speaking up.
"What secret? What are you going on about?"
Nannette didn't get a chance to answer. I'd recovered from the insult enough to sputter, "That orchid is stolen!"
"What?" Mitzi acted surprised. "What is she talking about, Nannette?"
"I can't discuss it!"
Voices rose outside, the buoyant sound of joshing men. I recognized the booming baritone of Hugh Lindenpool, the banker who sings in our church choir. I was running out of time.
"Tell us now," I said, "or tell us in front of the entire committee. I won't sit still while you try to--"
"Somebody at church asked me to get rid of that orchid." Nannette addressed her comments to Mitzi, but I mentally recorded every word for future courtroom and/or Garden Society testimony. "This person felt guilty about how it had been acquired. And that's all I will say about it. Now or ever."
The door burst open, and Hugh Lindenpool flooded in with a couple of his loud golfing buddies. Before I could even get my thoughts straight, the meeting was under way.
Well. Let's say I didn't do my usual thorough job keeping the minutes. The yellow orchid was right there in the room with us! But nobody else around the dining table recognized it. Of course, most of them were men, and they wouldn't know an orchid from okra, but still. You'd think one of these geniuses could put two and two together.
Mitzi chaired the meeting in her usual haphazard fashion, idiot smile pasted in place the whole time, and I'm sure they couldn't tell she'd just been accused of receiving stolen property. She wouldn't look at me, though.
Nannette sneaked out midway through the meeting. I resisted the urge to chase after her. Grilling Nannette Hoch was a job for the Llano County sheriff.
From the sound of it, Nannette was just a conduit anyway. The real thief was the person who gave her the orchid. The church member who'd stolen it from Betty Sue Lybrand.
I remembered with a jolt that Betty Sue, too, attended Wildweed Community Church. She's always such a friendly, levelheaded person, I forget she's a holy roller. Betty Sue undoubtedly knew everyone in that congregation. She'd certainly know which fellow believers visited her home around the time the orchid went missing.
As soon as the committee meeting clattered to its usual uneventful conclusion, I high-tailed it for Betty Sue's house.
She was out in the rose garden when I drove up her dusty road. Betty Sue grows beautiful roses in the unforgiving New Mexico sunshine, and an amazing variety of exotics in a greenhouse Archie slapped together behind their garage.
She waved me toward the house. Her ginger hair was the usual frazzled mess as she met me at the front door, and perspiration dotted her round face. I practically chewed my tongue off, waiting for her to finish inviting me into her cool kitchen and offering iced tea and asking after Harley and the kids. When I could finally get a word in edgewise, I blurted out everything I knew about her missing orchid and Nannette and Mitzi and the mysterious Wildweed connection.
Betty Sue flushed and fidgeted through my hurried narrative, and I mistakenly assumed she was thrilled by my sleuthing. When I paused for breath, she said, "You need to drop this, Loretta."
"Drop it. That orchid already caused enough friction. I don't want Archie to get riled up again."
"Don't you want to call the sheriff?"
She shook her head, but she wouldn't look at me, too busy watching her freckled hands fretting with each other on the tabletop. Silence filled the tidy kitchen.
And then I got it.
No wonder Betty Sue didn't want the sheriff involved. She'd known the thief's identity all along
I don't know why I hadn't seen it sooner. Betty Sue never would've dared to spend hundreds of Archie Lybrand's hard-earned dollars on a single houseplant. She'd stolen the orchid from that flower show in Albuquerque.
Once people like me started gushing over her new acquisition, how wonderful and rare it was, Archie would've asked questions she couldn't answer. The orchid had to disappear.
Betty Sue couldn't bring herself to throw away such a beautiful flower, so she gave it to Nannette. She probably hoped that would be the end of it, but Archie blabbed her fib all over town.
I glanced around her kitchen, at the faded wallpaper and the aged appliances. The only joy in the drab house came from the pots of colorful flowers at every window. We need such things of beauty in our lives, little gifts to ourselves, what Mama always called "orchids for the soul."
Betty Sue got so carried away by beauty that she made a terrible mistake. I could sympathize. I myself am sometimes afflicted by enthusiasms.
"If that's the way you want it," I said softly, "we can let it go."
"That would be best, Loretta."
I got to my feet. Betty Sue teetered over her nervous hands, and I got the impression she was waiting for me to leave so she could put her head on the table and have a good cry.
"Despite what some people say, I can keep a secret," I said. "You can trust me, Betty Sue."
She nodded, but still couldn't look at me. I cast about for a parting kindness.
"Mitzi will take excellent care of that orchid." It pained me to say so. "She'll smile at it all the livelong day. That's got to make for a healthy flower."
Betty Sue looked up at me then, her eyes red and wet.
"I'm glad it found a good home."


Hothouse Flowers, Part I

Dear readers: I wrote a short story featuring some of the main characters from my hilarious new mystery novel, A BOX OF PANDORAS, and thought I'd share it here on my blog. Part II will appear tomorrow.

 My first thought when I saw the purloined orchid was that I'd finally found a way to wipe the rodeo-queen smile off Mitzi Tyner's face.
I've labored in Mitzi's shadow my whole life. We were in the same grade through school, and raven-haired Mitzi was Miss Everything-All-the-Time. Homecoming queen. Class president. Head cheerleader for the Pandora Boxers (dogs, not underwear). Editor of the school newspaper, though she can barely write her own name.
I never got to be any of those things. All my ambitions were thwarted by the blinding charisma of Mitzi Tyner. My yearbook caption might as well have read: "Loretta Kimball: Most Likely to Come in Second."
I thought it would end after school, but Mitzi follows me through middle age, thwarting me. If I join a civic organization such as the Association to Beautify Pandora Creek, she joins, too, and is inevitably elected president within weeks. She's president of everything in town. Not that she ever does any work, mind you. That's left to drones like me. Mitzi believes her role is to stand around and be admired, and the people of Pandora just eat that up with a spoon.
I try to avoid all contact with her, but that's not possible in a town of two thousand souls surrounded by hundreds of miles of empty prairie. I suppose I could go stand out in the desert by myself, but I'm social by nature. I want to help people, to be involved in our community, but every time I turn around, I bump into the surgically enhanced bosom of Mitzi Tyner.
The worst is when my civic duty requires me to visit her home, which is just as overdecorated as she is. Oh, Mitzi has many lovely furnishings in that mausoleum she and Long John Tyner built on the outskirts of town, but the decor is so thrown together, it's got all the charm of a flea market. The Chinese vases and Southwestern landscapes and ceramic elephants might as well have price tags hanging on them. All of Mitzi's taste is in her mouth.
She often hosts civic events out there at the Taj U-Haul, so I'm sometimes forced to actually cross her threshold. On this day, it was a meeting of the Save Old Route 66 Committee. I'm secretary of the committee, which used to be headed up by my husband, Harley. (Of course, as soon as Mitzi joined, the downtown businessmen elected her president, but Harley didn't mind. He's got enough to do at the hardware-and-feed store that's been in his family for three generations.)
I was first to arrive for our monthly meeting, and Mitzi greeted me wearing a puffy blue frock and dangly earrings and a white apron decorated with black cows. She can't wear jeans like everyone else in Pandora. She dresses as if she expects a TV crew to stop by any minute.
"Loretta!" She always acts pleased to see me, but I know better. "Come in this house!"
I was carrying a sack full of plastic bottles of soda pop for the meeting, and it was like holding an armload of slithery babies. I followed her to the kitchen to dump my burden, and that's when I saw the orchid.
She hadn't even bothered to hide it! The orchid sat on a mahogany sideboard in her dining room, bold as you please, its drooping flowers so yellow they seemed made of sunshine. Oh, the blue ceramic pot was new, and she'd clearly pruned a couple of the leathery leaves, but that was a Yellow Lantern hybrid, and it most definitely was the one stolen from Betty Sue Lybrand.
I'd seen that rare orchid once before. I happened to stop by Betty Sue's place right after she brought it home from a flower show in Albuquerque. Just the most precious orchid you've ever seen. Must've cost hundreds of dollars, and I'm sure that didn't sit well with her husband, Archie, a shade-tree mechanic known for being tighter than new boots. Betty Sue had planned to show the orchid off at the next meeting of the Pandora Garden Society, but a sneak thief took it from her home a week ago.
Now there it was, in plain sight, with half the town's bigwigs on their way to Mitzi's house. Did she think no one would notice? Did she think we were fools?
"What a beautiful orchid!" I said as I crossed the room to examine it closer. Definitely Betty Sue's missing hybrid. "Where did you get it?"
"Isn't it pretty?" Mitzi was at the kitchen sink, opening a bottle of cheap champagne. "Nannette gave me that the other day."
Nannette Hoch is Mitzi's sidekick. She's a dried-up lemon of a woman, bitter and nasty, with only three passions in life: devotion to her church, loyalty to Mitzi and loathing of me. The feeling is mutual.
"Since when does Nannette know anything about orchids?"
"Somebody gave it to her, and she knew she'd just kill it," Mitzi said. "You know how she is with plants, bless her heart."
I nodded. Nannette was quietly banned from Garden Society meetings years ago because she could wipe out a roomful of healthy houseplants with a single jinxed exhalation.
Had Nannette stolen the orchid? I couldn't imagine that. First of all, Nannette hadn't broken one of the Ten Commandments in decades, if ever. Secondly, her bad plant karma would've killed such a delicate hybrid right away. I was surprised it survived the car ride to Mitzi's house. Nannette must've kept the windows rolled down the whole way.
The cork popped. Mitzi beamed at this accomplishment, her capped teeth shiny as truck mirrors. She poured herself a healthy fluteful, though it was barely two o'clock in the afternoon, and joined me in the dining room.
"This is a rare orchid," I said.
As if she didn't know. Betty Sue's tightwad husband had moaned to anyone who'd listen about the loss of that valuable plant.
"Why would someone sentence it to death by giving it to Nannette?"
Mitzi's smile waned while she concentrated on one of her periodic thoughts, then she flashed the high-beams again.
"You can ask her yourself," she said brightly. "I saw her out the kitchen window a minute ago. Her car was just pulling up."
My pulse quickened. Nannette wasn't a member of the Save Old Route 66 Committee, so I hadn't expected her here. Did I dare confront her? The town fathers would be arriving any second. Did I want them to find three middle-aged women in the middle of a hair-tearing fight?
(To be continued . . .)


My funny new mystery

I'm happy to announce that my new novel,  A BOX OF PANDORAS, is now available through Amazon for Kindle. And it's only $3.99.

I'm very proud of this book. It's got all the elements of a traditional mystery, but it's loaded with laughs and the female protagonist is an absolute stitch. Loretta Kimball is a small-town busybody, sassy and sharp, who knows everybody in Pandora, NM, and is perfectly willing to share her opinions about them.

The basic plot -- the president of an actor's fan club gets mixed up in murder at a Santa Fe film festival -- bounced around my "Ideas" file for several years. Then last year Loretta suddenly spoke to me. Her first-person voice came to me full-blown, as did many of the details of life in Pandora, and the novel felt as if it flowed out of the ends of my fingers. I wrote it in a matter of weeks, though the revisions took months, as usual.

For the first time, I'm publishing through the KDP Select program, which offers certain promotion and marketing benefits in exchange for a 90-day exclusive on Kindle. This means members of Amazon Prime can borrow the book for free. (It also means that fans who read my books on Nook and other e-readers will have to wait a few months for A BOX OF PANDORAS. Sorry!)

Most New Mexicans will recognize the title, as it comes from our late, great Gov. Bruce King, who was famous for such malaprops. He once warned that a legislative measure would "open up a whole box of Pandoras." When I decided to create a New Mexico town for this book, Pandora seemed a natural.

While the town is imaginary, life there will seem very real to folks who grew up in small towns and rural areas. Everybody knows everybody. You can't get away with anything. Old grudges last forever.

One of the funniest aspects of A BOX OF PANDORAS is Loretta's lifelong grudge against Mitzi Tyner, a schoolmate who's always stealing Loretta's thunder. Mitzi and her sidekick, Nannette Hoch, attend the Santa Fe film festival, too, and play big roles in the story.

I've already written one short story featuring these characters, and would love to feature them in more novels. Depends on sales, of course. So get out there and do your part. Pick up A BOX OF PANDORAS today!


Sneak peek at new cover

Here's a first look at the cover for my new e-book, which comes out later this week. A BOX OF PANDORAS is a traditional mystery with lots of laughs, set here in New Mexico. I think you'll love it.

In A BOX OF PANDORAS, small-town busybody Loretta Kimball goes to Santa Fe for a film festival that features her long-time movie idol, Michael Girard. Loretta is president of Girard's fan club and never misses an opportunity to see him in person. The film festival is populated with colorful characters and, since this is a murder mystery, some of them soon turn up dead.

The cover was designed by Kelly Brewer, who's done a number of my covers since we launched our E-Book Empire. She also helps edit my books. As I've said so often before, it pays to marry into talent.

I'm doing the final proofing and formatting of A BOX OF PANDORAS, and it should be available via Kindle and Smashwords by the end of the week, and on Nook, etc., shortly thereafter. (Don't worry, I'll let you know when.)

Those of you who follow me on Facebook or Twitter know that I've lately been sharing first lines from my novels. Here's the first line of A BOX OF PANDORAS:

"When I first heard my film idol was coming to New Mexico, you could've knocked me over with a feather boa."

More soon...


The African Connection

If you've ever heard me talk about mysteries, then you know one of my all-time heroes is the late, great Donald E. Westlake. This week, I felt a special connection with him.

I met Westlake a couple of times before his death in 2008, but they were brief encounters at book events in New York, and I mostly acted like a drooling fanboy. For the past couple of decades, I've tracked down most of his 100-plus books, and reveled in every one. I especially like the hard-boiled tales about the professional thief Parker that Westlake wrote under the pseudonym Richard Stark. I thought I'd read every one of them.

Which brings us to this week. At the library, I found an old large-print edition of an unfamiliar Stark novel, and I was excited to read one I'd somehow missed. It's called "The Black Ice Score," and it's from 1965. In the story, Parker helps some guys from a new African nation called Dhaba steal diamonds that their evil president has smuggled to the U.S. It's a typical Parker story, with lots of violence and a couple of nice twists. One group of bad guys is sent after the diamonds by a General Goma back in Dhaba. We never see Goma, but reference is made to him several times.

When I saw "General Goma" in print, it stopped me in my tracks. I wrote a thriller called "Cutthroat" that first came out in 2007 from Bleak House Books, and the story includes a General Goma. In "Cutthroat," hero Solomon Gage learns that his employers are conspiring with Goma to overthrow the government of the African nation of Niger.

How did Westlake and I both end up with a General Goma? I remember thinking up the name when I was writing "Cutthroat" and settling on it because it sounded African. But had I really read it before in "The Black Ice Score" years ago, then forgotten I'd ever read that story? Was it strictly a coincidence? Was there any chance that Westlake saw "Cutthroat" before he died, and thought my Goma was some sort of homage? Did we have some sort of freaky ESP connection?

If I thought I could channel Westlake, I'd be the happiest writer around. Do yourself a favor and read his books. And read "Cutthroat" while you're at it. Say hi to General Goma for me.


A busy, productive summer

It's been, um, (mumble-mumble) weeks since I last updated this blog, but I finally have a moment on a Sunday afternoon to catch up on what's been a very busy time.

Life is good in Albuquerque. Kelly's still enjoying her law-firm job after more than six months, and I've written a whole novel since PARTY DOLL debuted in February. Took me 10 weeks to write the first draft of STASH THE CASH, a novel about bank robbers who make a big haul only to have several people try to steal it from them. Lots of rewriting to come, but I expect to finish the revisions over the course of the summer.

My class in the University of New Mexico's Honors Program wrapped up in May, freeing up more time for writing. I had a great semester with some very bright students, and I'm looking forward to teaching "The New Noir: Contemporary Crime Fiction" next fall.

Sales of my e-books via Kindle and Smashwords continue to go well, and I've been experimenting with advertising the e-books through Google's Adwords program. Be interested to hear from any of you who might've seen one of those ads.

Yesterday, I joined Southwest Writers, and Kel and I enjoyed a SWW lecture on creativity by a local neuroscientist. I'm scheduled to speak to SWW next month about the e-book revolution, and I'm giving a similar talk to the local Sisters in Crime chapter on July 24. Also, I've been invited to be on a humor panel in November at the Tony Hillerman Writing Conference in Santa Fe.

One of the other authors on that panel will be Craig Johnson of LONGMIRE fame. Craig and his wife Judy were in town the other night for a booksigning, and we went out to dinner with them. Had a wonderful time. Craig is a natural-born storyteller, and he was a big hit with the standing-room-only crowd at Bookworks. We're looking forward to the TV premiere of LONGMIRE tonight.

June is typically the hottest month in Albuquerque, and we've been getting some smokey skies from that giant wildfire in southwestern New Mexico, but that hasn't stopped us from getting outdoors and going to cookouts, etc. Kel's planting flowers in our yard, and we both try to walk outdoors for exercise nearly every day. Our neighborhood near UNM is great for walking. Lots of trees and quiet streets, and the occasional roadrunner to keep you company.

We're looking forward to Summerfest and other Albuquerque activities over the next few months. But for now, back to those rewrites . . .


Review a book and get one FREE

Starting today, you can get one of my e-books for FREE every time you review one.

Post a review on Amazon and/or Smashwords, then send an e-mail to abqbrewer@gmail.com, saying something like, "Hey, Steve: I reviewed CALABAMA, and now I'd like a copy of THE BIG WINK." I'll send you a FREE e-book of the one requested, via either Smashwords coupon or Amazon "gift," your choice.

My e-books are already cheap ($2.99 or less), but I need more reviews. If you like to write reviews, you could plow through my whole backlist for almost nothing. But you need to get cracking. This offer ends May 31.

To see all my books, go to my Amazon page here or my Smashwords page here.

Now get to reading!


Not dead yet

This blog has been dormant for six weeks, so I wanted to poke up my head and say I haven't died. I'm writing the first draft of a new novel.

Whenever I'm in this stage of the novel-writing process, other things tend to fall by the wayside. My head is so full of the story I'm writing, it's hard to focus on other stuff, such as blogging and marketing and laundry.

I'm a little over halfway through the first draft of a thriller called STASH THE CASH. It's ripping along at my regular pace, between 30-40 pages a week. At this rate, I should be done within six weeks, with the usual months of rewriting to follow.

I'm also teaching this semester at the University of New Mexico. That class keeps me busy on Wednesdays. I volunteered to teach a few sessions at an April 20 writing seminar at UNM, and I'm devoting this weekend to preparation for that.

So it's a busy time. Kelly and I have also been socializing some, trying to catch up with our Albuquerque friends. Hard to believe we've been back in New Mexico six months already. Feels like we should still be unpacking.

Of course, I've had my head down, writing, ever since we got here. First, I cranked out the latest Bubba Mabry story, a novella called PARTY DOLL. And now I'm hard at work on STASH THE CASH.

Meanwhile, I signed an extension on the film/TV option on my 2004 novel BOOST. And, while I can't really talk about it yet, there's some film interest in 2005's BANK JOB as well. Now if I can just get Hollywood interested in my more recent books, such as LOST VEGAS or THE BIG WINK, I'll be all set.

For more info about all my books, check out my Amazon page at http://www.stevebrewer.us.com/. Now I've got to get back to writing the new one.


Free Bubba!

If you're a book blogger/reviewer, I'd love for you to have a free review copy of my new e-book, PARTY DOLL. Drop me a line at abqbrewer@gmail.com.

PARTY DOLL, a 37,000-word novella, is the ninth story in the series featuring bumbling Albuquerque private eye Bubba Mabry. In PARTY DOLL, Bubba is hired to locate a missing stripper who goes by the stage name Joy Forever. His investigation uncovers corruption at the highest levels of state government.

I'm available for guest-blogging related to the new book, and I also have a Q-and-A with the author that I can send to you.

For more info on PARTY DOLL and my other 23 books, see my Amazon page here. Thanks!


An author I wish I'd met

Last Friday, I stopped by the branch library near our house to drop off some books. I browsed the stacks and was delighted to find "The Long Home," William Gay's first novel and the only one of his titles I hadn't read.

In a chilling coincidence, I went home, logged onto the Internet and immediately found the first word of Gay's death. He was 68 years old, and apparently died of heart failure the night before.

I'd only recently discovered Gay, who's often compared to William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy. Gay's name kept cropping up in interviews with other authors I admire, but I hadn't gotten around to his books until a few weeks ago. I gobbled them right up. Not only are they beautifully written, but they're set in a South not that different from the place where I grew up. They spoke to me. I'm sorry he won't be around to write more of them.

You can find many tributes to Gay on the Internet. The USA Today obit is here.


A brief history of Bubba

I was being interviewed the other day about the new Bubba Mabry novella, PARTY DOLL, when I realized I've known Bubba for more than 20 years now.

Bubba was the star of my first published novel, LONELY STREET, and we've been together through six more novels, two novellas and a movie. I've published 14 other books during that time as well, but I keep coming back to Bubba.

All the Bubba stories remain in print via Kindle and Smashwords for $1.99 or less, and most are still readily available in paper as well. For those who've come to the series recently, I thought you could use a quick history of Bubba.

I wrote LONELY STREET in 1991, but it was 1994 before it was published by Pocket Books. In LONELY STREET, the bumbling private eye is hired by what appears to be the living Elvis. A reporter is trying to expose that The King faked his own death years before, and Bubba's hired to tail him.

Partly because of that rock 'n' roll connection, LONELY STREET remains my best all-time seller, and it was made into a Hollywood comedy that came out a couple of years ago. Here's the trailer:

That's the ever-hilarious Jay Mohr as Bubba. Underneath that incredible makeup is Robert Patrick as Elvis. Other faces you probably recognized are Joe Mantegna, Katt Williams and Mike Starr. The film was directed by Peter Ettinger.

The second Bubba book was BABY FACE. In that one, Bubba and his girlfriend, newspaper reporter Felicia Quattlebaum, take on the Religious Right, politicians, hookers and a vicious pimp named Sultan Sweeney.

Next came WITCHY WOMAN, in which Bubba goes to Taos, NM, to try to wrest a rich heiress away from an all-female cult. Things get weird when Felicia goes undercover by pretending to join the cult.

In SHAKY GROUND, Bubba and Felicia get married, but their wedding is almost ruined by Bubba's investigation into the killing of a biologist in the desert west of Albuquerque.

DIRTY POOL came next. Bubba goes head-to-head with a Texas private eye named William Pool as they both search for a young skinhead who's faked his own kidnapping. Whoever finds him first gets to keep whatever ransom is recovered.

In CRAZY LOVE, Bubba goes to work for a jealous widower who believes his wife had an affair before she died.

MONKEY MAN takes place mostly at the Albuquerque zoo. It opens with the shooting of a whistleblower zoo employee by a man wearing a gorilla suit. Things only get weirder from there.

I got invited to write a Christmas novella for an anthology, and the result was SANITY CLAUSE. In that story, Bubba is working as security at a mall at Christmastime, and somebody bumps off one of the guys who plays Santa.

That brings us to the new novella, PARTY DOLL, in which Bubba is hired to locate a missing stripper who goes by the stage name Joy Forever.

I don't have immediate plans to write another Bubba story; I've started working on a standalone about bank robbers. But I'm sure Bubba will return before long. He and I go way back.


BOOST now a bargain

I'm pleased to announce that one of my most acclaimed crime novels, BOOST, is now available as an e-book for only $2.99.

BOOST was the only one of my books that had been e-published by its regular hardcover/paperback publisher. They'd been charging $8.61 for the e-book, and the pricing was out of my control. But last week I successfully got the e-book rights back so I could publish it myself via Kindle and Smashwords.

In BOOST, professional car thief Sam Hill discovers the corpse of a police informant in the trunk of a stolen 1965 Thunderbird. Someone has set Sam up, and he won't rest until he gets even. It's a fun, fast-paced story in which car thieves are the good guys.

Kelly Brewer did an outstanding job on the cover art, as you can see. By the way, that is indeed a '65 Thunderbird in the photo.

BOOST got some of the best reviews I've ever received; the Baltimore Sun called it "incredibly entertaining." The book remains under TV/film option in Hollywood, and a director in India also has expressed interest in making it into a movie.

My E-book Empire is now complete. I've self-published my entire backlist, as well as new crime novels such as THE BIG WINK, LOST VEGAS, CALABAMA and FIREPOWER. All are $2.99 or less.

The new Bubba Mabry novella, PARTY DOLL, is selling well, and I thank all of you who've bought a copy. It's only $1.99 on Kindle and Smashwords, as are all the novels featuring the bumbling Albuquerque private eye.
My other recent e-publication, the short story PAYOFF, is only 99 cents.
Please check out all my e-books. Thanks!


Bubba's back!

Bubba Mabry, the bumbling Albuquerque private eye who starred in eight previous books, returns in a new novella, PARTY DOLL.

In PARTY DOLL, Bubba is hired to find a missing stripper who goes by the stage name Joy Forever. Business at the Pink Pony Gentlemen's Club is down without the star attraction, plus she vanished owing her boss, Slick Gurken, a lot of money. Slick wants her found, and he wants it fast.

But there's more here than meets the eye. The feds also are interested in Joy. And her disappearance may play a role in the latest crusade by Bubba's wife, newspaper reporter Felicia Quattlebaum.

I started writing PARTY DOLL back in October. At first, I thought it would be a short story. But the story kept growing, getting more complex, and it ended up being a 37,000-word novella.

Thanks to the e-book revolution, there's a market now for such shorter books. And novellas can sell for much less. PARTY DOLL is only $1.99 via Kindle and Smashwords. All the other Bubba e-books are similarly priced, so you can get the whole series for less than twenty bucks.

PARTY DOLL is a fast, funny mystery. Hope you enjoy it!


Free short story & more

My hard-boiled short story PAYOFF is now a free e-book via Smashwords. Click here to see it. Smashwords allows you to download such stories to virtually all e-readers, including Kindle.

PAYOFF was written originally for DAMN NEAR DEAD (Busted Flush Press), an anthology of "geezer noir" featuring protagonists who are senior citizens. In PAYOFF, a 77-year-old heist man named Eddie gets approached by someone who wants a murder committed. Eddie's no killer, but at his age, what has he got to lose?

PAYOFF is also on Amazon.com, but it's listed there at 99 cents. I'm trying to get Amazon to make the 20-page story free there as well, but that's taking a while. Check out PAYOFF. I think you'll enjoy it.

Meanwhile, work on the new Bubba Mabry novella proceeds apace. I'm doing the final edits on PARTY DOLL, and should have it posted to Kindle and Smashwords (at a price of only $1.99) within the next couple of weeks. Here's the first look at the cover art, designed by Kelly Brewer. She did the PAYOFF cover as well. Is Kelly great at this or what?

In PARTY DOLL, the bumbling Albuquerque private eye is hired to track down a missing stripper who goes by the stage name Joy Forever. Fun story, with lots of action. Coming soon!


New "Rules" for the New Year

I'm pleased to announce a second edition of my 1000 Rules for Successful Living, now available via Kindle and Smashwords.

To start the new year off right, I revamped the e-book to include some of the more recent entries in my long-running list of twisted adages and fractured advice. The new edition is truly a "best of" list, including such gems as:

It takes two to tango, but you can pirouette all by yourself.

Many a man's nose has been broken by his own middle finger.

When in the company of well-diggers, don't get them started on how cold it is.

It takes a lot of balls to overdecorate a Christmas tree.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man should not run with scissors.

If you enjoy my "Rules," please consider the e-book. It's only $2.99. Thanks!


You're doing it wrong

A tip for the Deputy Barney Fifes of the world: If you leave a suspect in your patrol car, make sure he can't drive it away.

Police in northwest Indiana are still on the lookout for a man who stole a cop car, then had the audacity to use the police radio to ask headquarters how to remove his handcuffs. He also asked whether the car had a cigarette lighter.

The car was later found submerged in water in a nearby county. No sign of the 22-year-old suspect, who presumably still was wearing the handcuffs.

Full story here.