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 . . .