Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Have a Happy

Anybody celebrating anything this week, eat, drink and hug the people and animals you love. At my house, in which seventeen people, a dog and a cat will gather for an old-fashion, fish-only, Italian Christmas Eve dinner, we wish all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

TFA Visits Katee Sackhoff's Movie Set


The Famous Author is hipper than we all thought. Not only does he know who Katee Sackhoff is, he was on the shooting set this week of her upcoming movie, grinning and trying to stay out of the way -- mandatory for movie set visitors.

Honestly, I'm jealous. While he didn't get to actually meet Katee and drool on her shoes, he watched her rehearse, perform and interact with the director in a movie to be entitled GIRL FLU. Not bad for an old man who didn't fall in love with Katee during Battlestar Galactica like more moderate age groups. TFA says he's a fan of Longmire, where Katee has been one of the main characters. A deputy sheriff I think. Longmire is a cowboy show, currently cancelled but seeking a new home. Why would they cancel a show with Katee in it? It's for geezer audiences.

Katee is not really a redhead, me thinks, but we found this picture of her, and that's good enough for Austin Carr's Redhead of the Week. Katee might be be redhead of the year. What do you think?

Here's Katee's offical website.

And here's a Facebook page with shots from the movie production.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Another Fun Reacher from Lee Child

Lee Child's ex-Army Policeman Jack Reacher shows up in D.C. to say hello to a wonderful voice on the phone, but the surprise he gets isn't happy. Reacher finds himself on the wrong side of the lockup, back in the Army and way deep in trouble, Reacher getting blamed for everything except World War II. I particularly liked his relationship with another wrongly blamed Army type -- the sexy female he came to see -- and the lengthy and exciting road trip they take. The ending was a bit of a let down, although the lack of a major final confrontation played out logically with the story. I am getting a bit tired of Reacher beating up nine guys at once and never taking a punch. Is it even possible to fight three or four men and not get a scratch? Well, these stories are way too much fun to care about that, and have no fear, Mr. Child, I -- and a million others -- will read the next Jack Reacher as soon as we're able.

Friday, October 3, 2014

SUSPECT is Robert Crais' Best Yet

Understand first I haven't met a Robert Crais novel I didn't like. Haven't given them all five stars, however, as RC is always on his game but some are better than others. So when I give SUSPECT five stars, I'm saying this is one his best. BUT -- I would give this book six stars if could because I believe this is his best book ever. I just loved it. I put it down -- had to go out to dinner -- but it was done by breakfast the next morning because I wanted to see how Scott and Maggie came out. I couldn't put it down is a cliche in this business. I did. I had to in order to sustain my marriage. But I didn't want to stop.

Who is Maggie, you might ask? Well this book is about Maggie, an ex-Marine German Shepherd who's now about to be rejected from the LAPD K-9 unit, and Scott, a LAPD patrol officer who lost his partner and was shot three times in an unsolved murder. Scott wants to join the K-9 unit to an effort to heal himself and get back to work. He dreams and thinks of his dead partner much of the time. Maggie the dog thinks about her dead former partner too, a Marine killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. Maggie was shot twice trying to protect her Marine handler after the explosion. Both Maggie and Scott are wounded emotionally and physically. Both have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. What a team!

The story is about Scott and Maggie learning to work together, both of them needing the other's help. Can they get their act together and solve the murder that killed Scott's former partner? But I called this story RC's best ever because of two things: One, the emotional level of this book is over the top for RC's work. These two protagonists will wrench your guts with their mistakes, their courage and the love they eventually share. Two, significant scenes are told from Maggie's point of view, and for me this was stunningly unusual and a joy to read. You will learn unbelievable facts about dog's noses and how they see the world, and if you have any love for dogs or animals in general, I believe this could be your favorite Robert Crais book, too.


Please, RC, give us another Maggie and Scott story someday. -- AC

Friday, September 26, 2014

TFA Takes a Vacation

Figures. We have a new book coming out next month, we're locked and loaded in our final re-write of BIG SHOES -- number four in my mystery series -- and The Famous Author has major commitments due for fancy blogs. So where is he when most needed?

Hilton Head. Of course.

"Relax, Austin, I'll be back this weekend."

"That's what you said a few years ago when I had to track you down in Mexico."

"Yeah, but I'm a much better person now. I quit drinking that mescal stuff."

"Oh, well, then everything's fine. What was I thinking? So what's with the alligator?"

"Number two son and I saw one on the golf course Monday. Looked exactly like this one."

"Poor baby."

Thursday, September 4, 2014

BIG MOJO Available for Pre-Order

It's taken only six years, but like some old general once said, I have returned. That's right fans. Austin Carr--that's me--has zombied up with a new adventure. We've talked about BIG MOJO many times. Number three. Mama Bones plays a major role, casting bullets, spells and wicked lies. But now you can actually pre-order my first new novel since 2008. I'd better stop saying that out loud, else The Famous Author might faint.

TFA finally found me some stockbroker love at Down and Out Books. Thank you Eric the Publisher.








Monday, August 18, 2014

Read the Opening Paragraphs of BIG SHOES

Dana King tagged The Famous Author to be next in line for a blog hop. (Thanks Dana!) Writers answer four questions, then tag two other writers to answer a week later. Well, TFA called in sick today. The flu, he says. So I'm stuck me with contacting the other authors and writing the answers for him. Boy will he be sorry.

What am I working on?

TFA is working on #5 in my series, BIG SHOES. I stole this draft opening off his computer:

The big thing about my temporary business partner, Angelina “Mama Bones” Bonacelli, the mildest of professional consultations can deteriorate into crime and violence. Lunch negotiations have turned into shootouts. Her Power Point presentation to a Jersey state racing commission last summer was raided by the FBI. As a Jersey shore racketeer with direct ties to what's left of a once powerful New York crime family, Mama Bones even packs a loaded semiautomatic.

Our association has been ... well, problematic. Bullets, knives and poison keep turning up at our mutually occupied locations and joint functions. In fact, I am lucky to be alive -- charmed, really -- and I've decided I need a new partner and a new livelihood. Trying to explain these concerns and my desires to Mama Bones last month, following the funeral of one Heriberto Garzia, a man murdered right before my eyes, Mama Bones told me to take a vacation. Think about my future, she said. Don't rush into drastic change. "Maybe when Vic gets better, you'll feel different," she said. Not likely. Her son Vic -- my real business partner, who Mama Bones is subbing for -- remains physically wounded and mentally unstable following an earlier, unrelated shootout. Unrelated, except minutes before being shot, both victims were talking to me.

I did take some time off, per Mama Bones' strong suggestion, but the results are not what she'd hoped. An exhaustive detailing of past events and stern logic worked against her, particularly a list I made of her associates who were murdered or who disappeared in the last three years. Honestly, only a suicidal fool would stay. This morning, my vacation is over. I'm here to tell Mama Bones that Bonacelli Investments will have to do without me. I've sold my last tax-free bond.

I don't think Mama Bones is going to let me out of the business that easily, do you?

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

In the sub-genre of funny mystery, TFA tries to do what everybody else does -- make the reader laugh. The one thing that makes me (Austin Carr) unique is my background -- that is, growing up in Los Angeles and moving to New Jersey. It's a scary place for easy-going guys like me.

Why do I write what I do?

I don't write it. TFA does. What a dumb question.

How does my writing process work?

Same thing. I don't have a writing process. I don't write. I'm a character. I sit inside TFA's head and whisper stupid stuff to confuse him. Or sometimes I tell him dirty jokes, make him spit coffee all over his desk. Ha. Man does that tick him off.

Travis Richardson was just nominated for an Anthony and other awards. He's a fine young man with a lovely wife. You can look at his Amazon author page here and his blog here. Les Edgerton is another award-winning author, teacher, coach and mentor to hundreds of writers across the globe. You can see his author page here and his blog right here. Both of these fine authors will answer these four questions next Monday. Don't miss them, especially Travis.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Funny Crime Authors to Try Besides TFA

Donna Andrews was born in Yorktown, Virginia, the setting of Murder with Peacocks and Revenge of the Wrought Iron Flamingos, and now lives and works in Reston, Virginia. When not writing fiction, Andrews is a self-confessed nerd, rarely found away from her computer, unless she's messing in the garden. She is a member of Sisters is Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Private Investigators and Security Association. www.donnaandrews.com












Jeff Cohen is the author of the Comedy Tonight and Aaron Tucker mystery series, and as E.J. Copperman writes the Haunted Guesthouse mystery series, whose sixth installment INSPECTOR SPECTER will be published by Berkley Prime Crime in December. Jeff collaborated with E.J. Copperman (and the negotiations were intense) on the Asperger's Mystery series from Midnight Ink, which begins in October with THE QUESTION OF THE MISSING HEAD, introducing Samuel Hoenig, a borderline genius with an autism spectrum disorder who answers questions for a living and narrates his stories.



Jeff Markowitz is the author of the Cassie O'Malley Mysteries, an amateur sleuth series set deep in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Jeff holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology from Princeton University and graduate degrees in special education and human services. He has spent four decades working in the non-profit sector, developing services for children and adults with autism. Jeff's new book, the stand-alone mystery, Death and White Diamonds, will be released by Intrigue Publishing in January 2015. Jeff is a proud member of the New Jersey Authors' Network and the Mystery Writers of America.










The Famous Author (TFA) used to be a newspaper reporter. Big deal. I'm still the best thing that ever happened to him. You can click on my blue or green adventure on the right side of this blog, or you can wait until this pink one comes out in October. Though it's almost ready, the boss says October 14 because he's trying to earn some early reviews. Go Eric! TFA and I greatly appreciate the thought and extra work.




By clicking on each author's name (except TFA) you will travel to read about and potentially purchase a new clever and LOL mystery novel. I know, everything's lol these days. Shopping lists are ROTFL. But these three authors made me laugh literally, both this weekend at the Deadly Ink mystery writers and readers convention and conference, and also when I've read their books over the years. Promise: These are smart funny people.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Will I Always Be a Work in Progress?

So The Famous Author is busy busy busy with the final touches on my new adventure, number three in The Austin Carr Mystery Series, BIG MOJO from Down and Out Books. Below you can see the preliminary cover and an early blurb from TFA's friend and mentor, Hank Phillippi Ryan. Actually, several of the ladies over at Jungle Red Writers have served as TFA's mentors over the past few years, offering advice and manuscript help, most often Roberta and Halle. The female point of view has greatly improved TFA's writing, not to mention his language and manners.

Okay, so farther below is the back cover copy that still needs work. TFA labors away while I speak, searching for catchy phrases and popular hooks to make potential readers open up to Page One. Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions, or hard work would be appreciated in the comments section and I'm guessing probably rewarded with a free copy of Mojo when she hits the market sometime in August. Deadline is next week.

DRAFT #21

"Gordon Gekko meets Janet Evanovich in this wry and winning caper--Jack Getze does it again!"    

      Hank Phillippi Ryan
      Agatha, Anthony and Mary Higgins Clark Award winning author of TRUTH BE TOLD
  

Wall Street's miasmal garbage washes up on the Jersey Shore when a small time broker falls in love: Is he attracted to the beautiful lady -- or her brother's inside information? Held spellbound by a steamy, auburn-haired woman with a questionable past and a get-rich-quick, insider trading scheme, Austin Carr knocks down a beehive of bad-acting Bonacellis, including the ill-tempered "Mr. Vic" Bonacelli, who wants his redhead back, and local mob lieutenant Angelina "Mama Bones" Bonacelli, architect of a strange and excruciating death trap for the fast-talking stockbroker she calls smarty pants. To survive, Austin must unravel threads of jealousy, revenge and new affections, discover the fate of a pseudo ruby called the Big Mojo and slam the lid on a pending United States of America vs. Austin Carr insider trading case. Can Austin and his Jersey Shore mouthpiece possibly out maneuver the savvy U.S. District Attorney from Manhattan? Will 
anything matter for Austin ever again if Mama Bones flips that switch?



Saturday, July 5, 2014

This D-List Redhead Makes Our A-List

Fifty-three-year-old Kathy Griffin moved to Los Angeles from Illinois at the age of eighteen, studied drama at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, and several years later became a member of the improvisational comedy troupe, The Groundlings. Griffin began making people laugh as a standup comic in the 1990s. She then appeared as a guest star on several television shows, and finally achieved major public recognition on the NBC sitcom Suddenly Susan, beginning in 1996.

Wikipedia says her breakthrough came on the Bravo reality show Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List (2005–2010), which became a ratings hit for the network and earned her two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Reality Program. Griffin has since released six comedy albums, with all of them receiving Grammy Award nominations.

Griffin has taped numerous standup specials with HBO and Bravo. For the latter network, she has recorded 16 specials, breaking the record for the number of specials in any network. In 2011, she also became the first comedian to have four televised specials in a year.

Besides her comedy career, she is an LGBT activist involved in causes such as same-sex marriage and the repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell". She has also participated in two USO tours. After being nominated for six years in a row for "Best Comedy Album", she finally won the Grammy in 2014, becoming only the third woman to win the category. Whoopi Goldberg and Lily Tomlin are the other two. Nice company, huh?

You can follow Kathy on Twitter. Or check out her tour dates, find out when she'll be close to your city. You make us laugh, Kathy. Thanks to you and Wikipedia for the info.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Heartbreak No Stranger to This Redhead

Born in Georgia, now living in New York City, Allison Moorer is an American alternative country singer who overcame the early horror of her parents' death to become a star. She signed to MCA Nashville in 1998 and made her debut on the U.S. Billboard country charts with the release of her debut single "A Soft Place to Fall", which reached No. 73. 


Since the release of her debut album Alabama Song, she released seven albums and 11 singles, five of which reached positions on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

Allison was raised in Frankville, Alabama, just north of Mobile. Raised on George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris, she sang harmonies as a toddler, eventually thinking she'd make a career of it. Following the murder-suicide of her parents in 1986, she moved into her aunt and uncle's home.

Allison moved to Nashville after her high school graduation. She sang for a while but returned to Alabama to earn a degree in public relations. She skipped the graduation ceremony to move back to Nashville. There, she met Doyle "Butch" Primm, an Oklahoma-reared musician who soon became her husband and frequent songwriting partner. In June 1996, she took part in a series of tributes to her songwriter friend, the late Walter Hyatt, singing his "Tell Me Baby" at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. Nashville agent Bobby Cudd was sufficiently impressed to hook her up with producer Tony Brown. After a few meetings, Brown asked her to cut some demos, from which two tracks -- "Pardon Me" and "Call My Name" -- ended up on her first MCA album, Alabama Song.

Her song "A Soft Place to Fall" was tapped for The Horse Whisperer in 1998, and she also appeared in the movie. Because the ballad earned her an Academy Award nomination, she performed it on the 1999 Oscars ceremony. However, none of her singles from Alabama Song or its follow-up The Hardest Part caught on at radio, though both projects were highly praised by critics.

Allison enjoys sewing and keeping her southern accent. Here's a recent entry from her journal (which you can find and read yourself on her website.)

"There’s something about being born in the south that you just can’t shake. It never leaves your blood, no matter where your life may take you. I’ve been all over the world and still have Spanish moss hanging all over me. It’s in my vowels and dropped g’s, in my gestures, in my tendency to want to monogram anything that will stay still long enough, in my longings, in my music, and in my dreams. Someone asked me once how long I’d lived in New York City, and when I replied that I’d lived here for years, he asked me how I hadn’t lost my accent yet. I told him I couldn’t if I wanted to and that just for the record, I did not want to."

-- Thanks to Wikipedia and Allison's website


Friday, May 16, 2014

HOT TIPS: Treasure Hunter Stock Under $2

Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (OMEX), which recovered nearly 1,000 ounces of gold during an initial reconnaissance dive, is currently salvaging what it can find from the wreck of the SS Central America, a 280-foot wooden-hulled, three-masted side-wheel steamship.

In operation during the California Gold Rush, the ship made 43 successful round trips between New York and Panama, but on the 44th was caught in a hurricane and sank 160 miles off the coast of South Carolina.

When lost on September 12, 1857, the Central America carried consignments of gold for commercial interests, mainly in the form of ingots and freshly San Francisco-minted U.S. $20 Double Eagle coins.

OMEX recovered five gold ingots (shown in photo above) and two $20 Double Eagle coins (one 1857 minted in San Francisco and one 1850 minted in Philadelphia) during a two-hour reconnaissance dive. The gold ingots were stamped with assayer’s marks and weights that range from 96.5 to 313.5 troy ounces.

Odyssey was selected for the project by Ira Owen Kane, the court-appointed receiver who represents Recovery Limited Partnership (RLP) and Columbus Exploration LLC (CE). The contract has been approved by the Common Pleas Court of Franklin County, Ohio, which has given Mr. Kane responsibility with overseeing the recovery project.

The archaeological excavation, valuable cargo recovery and ship-board conservation will be conducted and underwritten by Odyssey on behalf of RLP. In return, Odyssey will receive 80% of recovery proceeds until a fixed mobilization fee and a negotiated day rate are paid. Thereafter, Odyssey will receive 45% of the recovery proceeds.

Remember: Before taking a tip from this website, Austin Carr -- that's me, the guy giving you the tip -- is a fictional stockbroker. Like, he doesn't exist.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Happy Cinco de Mayo You Gringos!

Don your sombreros, mi amigos y mi amigas. The Famous Author is making tacos and enchiladas tonight, but being the front-runner he is, you'd better get there by eight if you want to eat.

The fifth of May is not Mexican Independence Day, by the way. Nor does May 5 celebrate the anniversary of tequila's creation, a noble holiday in its own right. So then, what IS Cinco de Mayo, exactly?

The Famous Author sponsored a contest back in 2007 asking just that question, and the grand prize-winning entry by Fred Pellerito explained it all:

"Cinco de Mayo is a date of great importance for the Mexican and Chicano communities. It marks the victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla.

"Although the Mexican army was eventually defeated, the "Batalla de Puebla" came to represent a symbol of Mexican unity and patriotism. With this victory, Mexico demonstrated to the world that Mexico and all of Latin America were willing to defend themselves of any foreign intervention. Especially those from imperialist states bent on world conquest.

"Cinco de Mayo's history has its roots in the French Occupation of Mexico. The French occupation took shape in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War of 1846-48. With this war, Mexico entered a period of national crisis during the 1850's. Years of not only fighting the Americans but also a Civil War, had left Mexico devastated and bankrupt.

"On July 17, 1861, President Benito Juarez issued a moratorium in which all foreign debt payments would be suspended for a brief period of two years, with the promise that after this period, payments would resume.

"The English, Spanish and French refused to allow president Juarez to do this, and instead decided to invade Mexico and get payments by whatever means necessary. The Spanish and English eventually withdrew, but the French refused to leave. Their intention was to create an Empire in Mexico under Napoleon III. Some have argued that the true French occupation was a response to growing American power and to the Monroe Doctrine (America for the Americans). Napoleon III believed that if the United States was allowed to prosper indescriminantly, it would eventually become a power in and of itself.

"In 1862, the French army began its advance. Under General Ignacio Zaragoza, 5,000 ill-equipped Mestizo and Zapotec Indians defeated the French army in what came to be known as the "Batalla de Puebla" on the fifth of May.

"In the United States, the "Batalla de Puebla" came to be known as simply "5 de Mayo" and unfortunately, many people wrongly equate it with Mexican Independence which was on September 16, 1810, nearly a fifty year difference.

"Over the years Cinco de Mayo has become very commercialized and many people see this holiday as a time for fun and dance. Oddly enough, Cinco de Mayo has become more of a Chicano holiday than a Mexican one. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on a much larger scale here in the United States than it is in Mexico. People of Mexican descent in the United States celebrate this significant day by having parades, mariachi music, folk lorico dancing and other types of festive activities."

Fred knows his stuff, huh?

Monday, April 21, 2014

I Still Love Lucy

Lucille Ball (1911-1989) was an American comedienne, film, television, stage and radio actress, model, film executive, and star of three landmark sitcoms; one of the most popular stars in America during her lifetime; a movie star from the 1930s to the 1970s; on television for more than thirty years.

Pretty, sexy, funny, almost a dingbat, star of I Love Lucy, The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy. The original Redhead of the Week received thirteen Emmy Award nominations and four wins, was the recipient of the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1979, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center Honors in 1986, and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Governors Award in 1989. Lucy was our first Redhead Hall of Fame inductee. That was a few years ago, and where I picked up most of this rehash. I write about Lucy a lot.

Here's what I wrote back In July of 2007, the first ever Redhead of the Week:

"After much rumination, and consultation with shrinks, I now believe this thing I have for redheads stems from Lucille Ball and I Love Lucy show reruns. She was pretty, spunky, sexy in her own funny way, and definitely all the entertainment you’d ever need for a long weekend.

"Yes, she was a pain in Ricky's ass, but there must have been plenty of good reasons why her hot Latin musician husband never strayed in all those years."

This redhead was a wild thing.

In 1927, Lucy dated a gangster by the name of Johnny DeVita. Because of the relationship, Lucy's mother shipped her off to John Murray Anderson School for the Dramatic Arts in New York City. Lucy came home a few weeks later when drama coaches told her that she "had no future as a performer."

The redhead responsible for my neurosis persisted, however, and began a performing career on Broadway, using the stage name Diane Belmont, and then moved to Hollywood and appeared in small movie roles in the 1930s as a contract player for RKO Radio Pictures.

At 29, Lucy eloped with Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz.

Oh, I knew you were a WILD thing.

In 1948, Lucy was a wacky wife on My Favorite Husband, a new radio program, and when it became a hit, CBS asked her to develop it for television. She insisted on working with Arnaz. CBS executives worried about an All-American redhead and a Cuban as a couple, however, and neither were they impressed with the pilot episode. Lucy again persisted, and toured a vaudeville act as the zany housewife with Desi. The tour was a smash, and CBS put I Love Lucy on the air for a stunningly successful nine-year run.

The show co-starred Desi as Ricky Ricardo and Vivian Vance and William Frawley as Ethel and Fred Mertz, the Ricardos' conflict-creating landlords.

On April 18, 1989, Lucy complained of chest pains and underwent heart surgery for nearly eight hours. She died a week later. We will miss her always, as will many millions of fans around the world.

Thanks to Lucy and Wikipedia. Visit Lucy and Desi's official website.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Protagonist or Antagonist, Who Will YOU Root for?

With both hands, I lift Nataska’s mask from the blanket and draw the Black Ogre’s likeness down over my face. Gazing through, a current of strength races through me, as if the black spirit's power flows directly to my heart. There is comfort in the darkness, the cover such a screen provides. This is natural. All living things must have a black kachina to go to, a killing spirit when they are attacked, a monster in chains. Why? Because everything in this world both eats and is eaten. Nature seeks us out for slaughter, and staying alive and leaving seed means protecting your ferocity. Each of us needs the ability to wage war, to struggle for our lives. And so while half the world criticizes, sees me as villain, I know I fight for my people, my culture and all the forgotten lives on this harsh globe -- that place where all of us are still eaten. And though the White Man has killed millions of American Indians, only one is needed to get even. Me. With the determination of a desperate man, I light the candle. I care not if the fire engulfs us all.

A complete manuscript is available from TFA's agent, Paula Munier at Talcott Notch. BLACK KACHINA is a 70,000 word contemporary thriller. Protagonist or antagonist -- which will YOU root for?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Famous Author Dances as Daughter Sheds Name, Ties

The Famous Author's female child was married this past weekend, and while most dads reminisce, weep and bemoan the "loss" of a daughter at such events, TFA danced the night away. Watch TFA display his true colors by clicking on the video below. If you don't recognize his dance moves, then you are too young to remember Dee Dee Sharp sing the Mashed Potatoes -- one of those odd ditties created in the studio using the names of other hit records as lyrics, but which caught fire with half the high schoolers in America and became the Great Mashed Potatoes Dance Craze. Figures TFA would fall for the latest in trends, but why fifty two years later? When he showed up at the office this morning, I asked TFA about this emotional inconsistency:

"Sad?" he said. "Are you kidding? Are you nuts? Like everyone else in the room, I am happy for my daughter. Nothing to be sad about."

"Her name is no longer Getze," I reminded him. "Doesn't that bother you?"

"Hardly. Now the U.S. Marshals won't mix us up serving warrants."












Friday, April 4, 2014

You Calling Me a Screwball?

Rosalee Richland is the pen name of two square dancing writers -- Cyndi Riccio and Rhonda Brinkmann -- who joined forces to create the Darla King cozy mystery series and Darla's own blog. We tried to have Darla interview me -- one fictional character interviewing another fictional character -- but the FCC said we couldn't do it. Here's "Darla" asking questions of The Famous Author.

What prompted you to write a series rather than a single book and to re-issue it beginning in 2013?

I wrote BIG NUMBERS with no thought of a series. But when the publisher tells your agent they want a second book with the same protagonist, though, most writers don't say no. I sure didn't. I like writing Austin Carr -- he's sort of an alter ego -- and I hope I earn enough readers to keep going. That's why I was thrilled when Eric Campbell of Down and Out Books said he wanted to reissue the first two and publish a third -- BIG MOJO -- for the first time. I believe in Austin and don't think until now he's gotten a fair chance to prove himself. New York says the public won't care about a stockbroker. And it's true not everybody likes him. But for the first time in seven years the Austin Carr stories are being read, reviewed, and purchased. Austin definitely has some fans.

The Austin Carr Series is referred to as a “screwball” mystery rather than a “cozy” mystery or simply a mystery. How did you choose this description?

Screwball is what I've heard agents and booksellers call mysteries by Janet Evanovich, Carl Hiaasen, Lisa Lutz, Tom Dorsey, and others. Funny mystery I've heard as well, perhaps slightly more often. I think of Austin as a screwball so as far as I'm concerned, it fits. One important thing: My books aren't cozies. There is some violence. People fight and die on the page. Though usually played for laughs, there are also sexual situations, and Austin makes jokes and references to his sex life. More than one reviewer has said he thinks like a seventeen year old.

Is there any significance to the name, “Austin Carr”?

I thought it sounded a bit goofy and that's what I wanted for the character. If you imagine Bugs Bunny as his mentor, it's easy to understand Austin. After I wrote the book, I discovered Austin Carr is the name of a very successful college and professional basketball player from the 1980s. I probably plucked it from my sports news memories.

Your other works include noir, crime, and horror. How different is it to write the Austin Carr series in comparison?

After four completed novels with Austin as the protagonist, his world is a very comfortable place. I have ventured out to write other things over the past five years (one thriller is still circulating), but it was warm and fuzzy coming back to Austin for Down and Out and the reissues. Right now I'm giving BIG MOJO the once over and discovering I have more to say. Because so much of my life parallels Austin's, it's as if I've spent the last forty years doing research for the series. I have so many more exciting places I want to send him.

How would you describe the audience who will most enjoy reading BIG MONEY?

I'd say a well developed sense of humor is key. But thanks to Goodreads and their giveaways, I have REAL pictures. I give away books, so right now on Goodreads I can see a name and picture for over 1,000 people who wanted to win my book in a drawing. In the majority of cases, these are people who have seen the cover, read the description, then filled out their address trying to win the book. Of course not all of these people are going to like my book if they win, but all those faces give me a very good idea of my market. I was told the mystery market is 75% women, mostly middle aged and college educated. My market looks to be 90% women, from 19 to 73.

What else would you like to share about yourself and your books with your readers?

Austin's two children will require more and more attention from him as the series progresses. Like most of us, Austin Carr's worries and troubles are complex, varied, and often fanned by the flames of family.

Thanks so much for joining us Jack!  I definitely fall in the market and enjoyed reading about Austin Carr!

Thank you, Darla. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

How TFA Ended Up a Writer

There are so many revelations, I couldn't let this pass. The Famous Author wrote a guest post for Sapphyria's Book Reviews, in which he describes his school years. Yikes. You wonder how he survived -- not from any tough neighborhoods, rotten family life or broken hearted events. Oh, no. TFA screwed things up all by himself. Just listen:

"When I was a kid, everybody read books at my house, my Dad and older brother barely closing the pages for dinner. I can still hear my mother scolding them to "put your books away, please" as she served the creamed tuna on toast. (Yuk). Reading stories and other people's words was a learned experience, one I've always loved.

"Everybody at dinner back then was also a college graduate, or headed that way -- everybody but me. I read like crazy during high school, just not the stuff I was supposed to be reading. I think the reasons my grades lacked any sign of average intelligence included the books and stories of Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, Hemingway, and Somerset Maugham. Those pages and stories were so much more interesting than algebra, science, and foreign languages. That I refused to do any homework might have been another reason. (It seemed unjust I had to go to school all day and also work later. When school was out, I figured I'd earned time for myself and my interests -- baseball, reading and TV.)

"Nearly flunking out of high school didn't worry me much, but my parents and counselors thought the idea a poor one, so we worked together to find classes I could manage to pass. Not easy with my ban on homework. One of them was Senior Problems. Another -- journalism -- saved me. I discovered a knack for writing quickly and clearly, perhaps because of all that reading. I also learned I liked making up stories.

"Well, actually I knew that before. Ha.

"I worked in a gas station after high school, delivered film to drug stores for a film processor, then for a Chevrolet agency I cleaned cars as the Assistant Lube Man. My favorite job title. I also continued to read a lot and decided to try journalism again. I earned a shot as copyboy on the old Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, got the job and loved it. The newspaper was so much fun, full of interesting characters. Being a reporter sounded cool, too, something to work for, plus they gave me a chance to write immediately. I earned my first byline at nineteen, and I was hooked. Seeing my name in the big metropolitan newspaper made me a writer forever, I think. When the Herald's writers went on strike with the press men a few years later, the Los Angeles Times offered me a job as reporter.

"I was already working on my first novel by then, a rip off of For Whom the Bell Tolls. I had lost two friends in the Vietnam War, and no one could explain to my satisfaction why they or any American had to die there. At the time, I was also reading Hemingway, so my first attempt at a novel was about a group of young Americans hiding in the mountains near Los Angeles, starting a revolution.

"I didn’t get too far before realizing my piracy -- or I figured out it was a dumb story -- and gave up, thank goodness. The next novel attempt, a mystery, I managed to finish. I called it Bakersfield Blue and it's still in a drawer somewhere. The predecessor to BIG MONEY showed up three manuscripts later, took twenty years to be published, and on the way took more turns than a python. But that's another story."

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Kate Eileen Shannon Tries to Raise TFA's Irish

An author herself, Kate Shannon can ask some tough questions. You should check her blog on a regular basis. Last week she went after The Famous Author with both barrels and managed to rough him up pretty good. Can you believe he's still wearing that hula shirt? Here are the questions Kate thought to ask him:

Are you as interesting as Austin?

Heavens no. I read and write all day long, then a TV show or two, go to sleep. Guys don’t get much more boring than me.

Why are you using that old picture again? I thought Austin and I had cleared that up!

It’s all I have, plus the marketing department (the wife) says I need to look younger. And you should never believe Austin. He’s a big liar.

I heard your granddaughter has a coloring book that has sold better than your books. Care to share a link?

No way. You think I’m going to help her sell more books than  me?

If the Playboy Channel (do they still have that?) were to pick this up as a TV series, who do you see playing Austin since George Clooney is too old?

Johnny Depp would do Austin Carr nicely, I think. He dresses up very well.

Is your wife a redhead?

Not this one. But my first love was, my high school sweetheart. I married her when I was twenty. We were just kids and really didn’t like each other much, so the marriage only lasted four years, but at least she was a redhead.

You know I am not the only guy who has a thing for redheads. It’s documented. Maybe it’s just because they stand out — they’re different. All I know for sure is that my interest goes back further than high school and my first wife — all the way to Lucille Ball. I LOVE LUCY was a popular TV show at our house, and she was not only gorgeous, but funny. I like funny. Silly is really good, too, and ridiculous … well, ridiculous makes me hot.

I know you will be re-releasing BIG MOJO but what do you have in the works that is new and can you share a bit about it?

Actually BIG MOJO is new, never before published. I’m still in the process of final editing as I answer your questions. And there are many important changes coming to Austin’s world in this third episode. In #2 BIG MONEY I introduce a new character, Mr. Vic’s grandmother, Mama Bones, and in #3 BIG MOJO, she becomes a major player in Austin’s life and the series. She is a strong and interesting character. Writing #4 BIG SHOES, I’ve had trouble keeping Mama Bones under control. She wants my job. I’ve heard writers say, oh, yeah, it was thrilling that my character came alive and just took over the book. But that’s not for me. The story is mine, Mama Bones. You can’t have it.

We joke around but the fact is you have mad skills when it comes to writing. Seat of the pants with clean up in edit or careful plotting with editing as you go along with your writing?

Kind of you to say I have writing skills. I work hard to keep them hidden. As for my process, the first draft is exploratory. I don’t know exactly what my story is until the first draft is done, so I don’t spend much time rewriting while I’m getting that first pass on paper (computer). I let the manuscript sit a few weeks, then read it, decide what the story is REALLY about. Next is a crude outline — one line is one scene — then the second draft. This is the hardest part for me. Everything has to make sense this time. One chapter should follow the next without hitch. In other words, I really have to work on this draft. The third and final pass is pure fun — I play with words, usually cutting as many as I add. This is when I click on the thesaurus and find another way to say something I’ve said before, and paint things up a bit. One writing instructor called this part “adding sparkle chips.”

I know you are active n MWA. Any plans to teach a class with MWA University? There are lots of us who would sign right up!

You really are a peach, aren’t you Kate — thinking I should teach a class in writing. Nice idea, very flattering, but I don’t believe MWA would agree. My books are not eligible for their awards, nor I can sell them at MWA events. In some cases, I can’t even attend as an author. I’m not grousing — my publisher is new and MWA has rules — but I think MWA would like to limit my activities to attending events and paying dues. I really appreciate your saying that, however. Thank you.

Now three things I ask everyone that have nothing to do with writing or your book:

What is your favorite food? Deep fried beef tacos. Anything Mexican is a close second.

What is your favorite TV show? Justified on FX. The producer Graham Yost has done just what he said he wanted to do — put Elmore Leonard stories on television.

What is your favorite music? I grew up listening and dancing to rockabilly, so give me three major chords and a dance beat, watch me go. Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Bowen, and Elvis shaped my life for years. Sun Records Rules!

Thank you so much for showing up yourself this time. Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers before you go?

I want to thank people for taking the time to read my work. For most writers this is all we really want — for readers to be entertained by our efforts — and so often we never find out if our plan worked. I spent so many years being rejected by agents and publishers, so many words written that have never been read, I find now myself overwhelmed with the number of reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. There are millions of books to read these days, but I can see people are in fact giving me a chance. It’s wonderful. And thank you.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

TFA is Such a Liar

Surprise, surprise. The Famous Author is on another blog tour, spouting off to anyone who'll listen about our books -- The Austin Carr Mystery Series -- and as usual he's telling some really tall tales. Read what he told Mystery Playground, a top-notch blog on crime novels. They asked TFA a few great questions, told him to include a picture of his research. The blog, which has a great Facebook page, too, went ahead and used the shot he sent them -- taken a few years ago of a book shop in Rome.

That TFA is a terrible liar. (Here's the Q & A from MP:)

1) Where did you get the idea for BIG MONEY?

It's one of those crazy true stories, so strange it can't be used in fiction. In 1979 my future wife and I fly back to New Jersey. Her brother is getting married and it's a chance for me to meet her family. We arrive at her house late and it's not until the following morning I meet her father. He's at the breakfast table, reading the paper. He's pretty gruff, gets up and leaves after he finishes whatever story he's reading. I wonder why he doesn't like me until I see the newspaper story -- it's about HIM, front page, my future father in law having refused in court the day before to point out two gangsters. The federal prosecutors played a tape recorded conversation -- quoted in the newspaper -- in which my future father-in-law is extorted for money. Are these the guys who threatened your life, the prosecutor asked my father in court. "I can't be sure," he said. Now deceased, my father in law was a pretty tough character. Tough, but not stupid.

2) You used to be a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. How did that job inform your fiction writing?

Being a reporter can mean different things, but for me, back then, it meant I wrote stories every day, mostly all day. I wrote stories while I talked to people on the telephone. I combined AP, UPI, and press release copy into one short coherent business section piece. I wrote one hundred words for the front page when the stock market rallied or crashed. I wrote stories on extreme deadline, an editor yanking the whole sheet of paper from my typewriter after each paragraph. Bottom line, I put close to two million words on paper in my newspaper career. It taught me to write.

3) What’s the story you worked on at The L.A. Times that you are the most proud of?

Most of your readers probably won't remember, but right after U.S. President Gerald Ford declared his War on Inflation in the mid-1970s, my editors asked me to survey the nation's top economists, find out if the President's plan had a chance. I spent much time and energy researching, discovered that the Vietnam War, the creation of OPEC and the resulting surge in oil prices meant our economy was doomed for many more years of fast-rising prices. It was a feature story, but the editors liked it so much (and Mondays are slow news days), my economics piece was the newspaper's top story -- banner headline on the front page. The prediction implied in the story's hook turned out to be true: Inflation didn't peak for five years. But what I am most proud of is that when I arrived at work that morning, the headline writer came to my desk and apologized. He had used virtually the whole first paragraph of my story for his headline, taking a bit of punch from the story opening, but making me feel like a million-dollar wordsmith. He couldn't write a tighter, catchier headline than six of the eight words I'd given him. The War on Inflation is Over. We Lost

4) Are there any photos you can share from your research? 

I collected quite a few books and other material in researching and producing BIG MONEY. This photo is just one corner of my garage:

(See Above) Ha ha