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!


Big sale on Kindle

Hey, Kindle users! For a limited time, my whole backlist is on sale for only 99 cents each.

The sale features two dozen novels published before 2014 -- including the entire Bubba Mabry series, two Drew Gavin sportswriter mysteries, the comic cozy A BOX OF PANDORAS and a bunch of standalone crime titles such as BOOST, BULLETS and BANK JOB. You can load up your Kindle, just in time for the long holiday weekend.

My latest books, the brand-new crime thriller SIDE EYE and the two Jackie Nolan novels published last year, aren't part of the 99-cent sale, but they're still cheap at $2.99.

This week, I met with an old friend who is part of a film development company here in New Mexico. He and his partners are interested in pursuing some of my books for movie or TV projects. Stay tuned.

Despite many distractions, I'm about to start writing the first draft of a new novel. It's a comic crime caper set in Albuquerque and along the border with Mexico. I've got it pretty much outlined, and find myself energized and ready to get started. Always a nice feeling.

But first a long holiday weekend! Happy Fourth of July to you and yours.


SIDE EYE debuts

Today is publication day for my latest thriller, SIDE EYE. It is my 30th published book.

SIDE EYE is the story of an 18-year-old orphan named Josh Nieto, who is hired as the driver for an Albuquerque loan shark who's losing his eyesight. When the elderly loan shark's Dixie Mafia past catches up to him, Josh is caught in the middle of a blood feud.

SIDE EYE is available via Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. I'll also be signing copies at Treasure House Books in Albuquerque's Old Town on July 15.

The new novel is partly inspired by something that really happened to me, many years ago. When I was in high school, I worked at a clothing store called the Jean Joint. One day, the owner was going to collect on a bad debt and asked me to tag along. When we got to our destination, in a very rough neighborhood, my boss pulled a machete out from under the seat and handed it to me.

"Hold this," he said. "If things get violent, jump out and wave it around."

I sat trembling, holding the big knife, while he went to the door of the house. Luckily for all of us, the guy who owed the debt wasn't home.

A very similar scene occurs in SIDE EYE, and the machete plays a big role in the book.

If you want to know more, give SIDE EYE a try. It's a taut, fast-paced novel that you can read in one sitting. I think you'll love it!


Coming soon

Behold the cover art for my next novel, which comes out June 1.

The cover was designed by Albuquerque artist Denise Weaver Ross, who also designed the covers for my two 2016 crime novels featuring Jackie Nolan, SHOTGUN BOOGIE and HOMESICK BLUES.

SIDE EYE stars a new character, an 18-year-old orphan named Josh Nieto. Josh is hired fresh out of Juvenile Detention to work as the driver for an elderly man who is losing his eyesight. The man, Malcolm Hunt, turns out to be a semi-retired mobster who still has his fingers in some illegal businesses. Trouble arrives almost immediately as one of Hunt's old enemies gets out of prison and comes searching for him. Josh soon finds himself caught in the middle of a deadly showdown.

I'll publish SIDE EYE in both paperback and e-book through Amazon. Don't worry, I'll remind you as the publication date approaches.😉

Aside from finishing up SIDE EYE, I've also been completing the spring semester at the Honors College at the University of New Mexico. I taught two classes this semester, Become a Better Writer and American Crime Fiction. Both were fun and well-received, and my two classes slated for next fall are already full.

As usual, there's a ton of marketing to do for the new novel, and I also stay busy managing my backlist -- SIDE EYE will be my 30th published book. Please help me spread the word.

A note to Kindle users: All nine Bubba Mabry stories are on sale for 99 cents each. So are the standalone crime novels LOST VEGAS and CALABAMA. Stock up before the sale ends!

As always, thanks for reading!


Round figures

I just finished the final revisions on what will be my 30th published book. SIDE EYE, a crime thriller with an 18-year-old protagonist, will come out in June via Amazon.

This month marks 20 years since I've had a real day job. I took a sabbatical from the Albuquerque Journal in 1997 and never went back.

Mostly, I've written crime novels over the past two decades, though I've written humor and short stories as well. I also enjoy teaching two days a week in the Honors College at the University of New Mexico.

My latest Albuquerque thrillers, SHOTGUN BOOGIE and HOMESICK BLUES, continue to sell well in paperback and on Kindle. These fast-paced stories star a tough woman named Jackie Nolan, a character I may very well write again.

 I've also been thinking about doing another Bubba Mabry story. The bumbling Albuquerque private eye has been featured in seven novels and two novellas (plus a Hollywood movie). A new Bubba book would be No. 10 in the series. Another nice round number.

For now, all the Bubba stories are on sale on Kindle for 99 cents each. So it's a good time to stock up!