Friday, September 29, 2006


Today, we conclude our Q&A with author Jon L. Breen. An award-winning book review columnist, he can be seen regularly in the pages of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Mystery Scene.

His latest novel is private eye mystery Eye of God (Perseverance Press). A retired librarian and English professor, he lives in Fountain Valley, California.

* * *


Keep writing, and keep sending out what you write. Take any personal rejection, something beyond the standard rejection slip or form letter, as encouragement. Editors won’t write you a personal note if they don’t believe you have a future.

That it’s not really true anybody can write a book. I fear many people believe their favorite politicians, athletes, and show business celebrities manage to turn out not just memoirs but novels in their spare time. The ghostwriter is sometimes credited, openly or subtly, but sometimes not at all.

Unfortunately, even successful writers are expected to do more self-promotion than in times past, and even for those to whom it comes naturally, it takes time away from the work itself. Anything that makes more potential readers aware of your work—going to fan conventions, blogging, doing bookstore signings (usually better in the independents than the big chains), handing out book marks, making yourself known to dealers and sales reps—can’t hurt, though I don’t pretend to know what will work best.

I belong to Mystery Writers of America, because it is the oldest and most important organization in my field of writing, and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, because I enjoy their publications and membership occasionally gets me invited to local s.f. conventions. Beyond that, I’m not much of a joiner. If writers had an actual labor union, however, I would certainly join it.

It depends on what one is looking for. An organization that will advance the professional well-being of its members in some tangible way, such as advice on craft, contracts and marketing, or collective clout with publishers? One that will facilitate contacts with agents or editors? One that affords the opportunity to socialize and commiserate with other writers? One that hands out awards? All these activities are worthwhile, and MWA and SFWA do them all to a greater or lesser degree.

* * *

Many thanks to author and reviewer Jon L. Breen. Find out more about his new novel, Eye of God, at Perseverance Press. Find his bibliography at the Internet Book List.

Related link: Q&A: JON L. BREEN, PT 1

More mystery and thriller novelists:
Q&A: SANDRA BROWN (Ricochet)
Q&A: COLLEEN COBLE (Fire Dancer)
Q&A: CORNELIA READ (A Field of Darkness)
Q&A: T.L. HINES (Waking Lazarus)
Q&A: TASHA ALEXANDER (And Only to Deceive)


Thursday, September 28, 2006


Today and tomorrow, we hear from Jon L. Breen, winner of two Edgars, two Anthonys, a Macavity, an American Mystery Award, and an American Crime Writers League Award for his critical and nonfiction work. He has had seven novels and around a hundred short stories published.

His latest novel, the mystery Eye of God (Perseverance Press), is about the Orange County, California private eye firm of Hasp and Carpenter:

Things are going well for the partnership until Norm Carpenter, widely regarded as the brains of the outfit, tells Al Hasp that he has become a born-again Christian and intends to leave the firm. Al convinces him to work on one last case, for televangelist and faith healer Vincent Majors, who is looking for a traitor in his organization. Al believes Majors is a transparent phony and is sure exposure to him will bring Norm to his senses.

"To everyone I tell about this book," Breen says, "I emphasize that it is neither a religious nor an anti-religious novel, but one in which evangelical Christians are taken seriously as fully-developed characters, neither saints nor buffoons, which I don’t think happens much outside of the Christian market. The book is a private eye novel, a fairly clued puzzle, and I hope an entertaining experience for a wide range of readers."

* * *


Thanks to my weird combination of bone-idle laziness and an equally deep-seated sense of duty and responsibility, I work best with deadlines. If I turn out 1000 words of fiction in a day (book reviews and articles don’t count), I allow myself to do the sudoku in the morning paper.

I’ll write the first few chapters without knowing exactly where the story is going, then work out the eventual solution but not every detail of how I’m going to get there. I rarely work from a detailed outline unless in collaboration.

Because of my inherent modesty, it’s difficult for me to toot my own horn. But I should mention that the New York Times once compared me to Shakespeare. No, really. Their reviewer at the time, Newgate Callendar, likened Rachel Hennings and Stu Wellman in my 1984 novel The Gathering Place to Beatrice and Benedick of Much Ado About Nothing.

My 1988 novel Touch of the Past got great notices in Britain, the London Times’s weekend reviewer praising its “high, glowing literacy” and the weekday reviewer finding it “full of good writing and nostalgic period detail,” while Julian Symons in The Independent said it “goes down as smoothly as a White Lady or Whisky Sour.”

I’m not sure, but it was probably said by an anonymous scribe for either Kirkus or Publisher’s Weekly, both of which fine publications have been tough on me over the years. Kirkus, of course, holds everybody to a rigorous standard, but PW usually has softball reviews. Aside from print reviews, a work colleague once told me the trouble with my books was that the people were too nice.

As book review columnist for Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Mystery Scene and an occasional reviewer (non-political) for The Weekly Standard, I probably average about 15 books a month.

For review, I select books I expect to enjoy, either because I know the author’s work already, the author’s reputation suggests it is worth trying, or something about the background or plot interests me. Publicity hype is much less likely to attract me than reading a few paragraphs for a sense of the style.

* * *

Come back tomorrow for the second half of our Q&A with author and reviewer Jon L. Breen. Find out more about Eye of God at Perseverance Press. Find his bibliography at the Internet Book List.

Related link: Q&A: JON L. BREEN, PT 2

More mystery and thriller novelists:
Q&A: SANDRA BROWN (Ricochet)
Q&A: COLLEEN COBLE (Fire Dancer)
Q&A: CORNELIA READ (A Field of Darkness)
Q&A: T.L. HINES (Waking Lazarus)
Q&A: TASHA ALEXANDER (And Only to Deceive)


Violet Dawn by Brandilyn Collins

Today, the blog tour continues for Brandilyn Collins's latest suspense thriller, Violet Dawn. Find a review here:
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance: Violet Dawn by Brandilyn Collins

You can follow Brandilyn's daily blog at Forensics and Faith.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Blog tour: VIOLET DAWN

It’s Day One of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance's three day tour of Brandilyn Collins's novel Violet Dawn, the first volume in her new Kanner Lake Series. Visit the participating CFBA member blogs, and keep track of the tour at the CFBA myspace blog.

A Little Creative License
Amber Miller
Bonnie Writes
Forensics and Faith
Reviews Plus+
Camy Tang
Unseen Worlds
So Much Stuff I Can't Recall
Chris Well: Learning Curve
Christy's Book Blog
Daniel I. Weaver
Curmudgeon's Rant
On Considering Inconveniences
Soul Reflections
Christian Fiction
Kittens Come From Eggs
Writing: My Adventures In Words
Georgiana D
Refreshment In Refuge
The Well-Dressed Branch
Just a Little Something To Read Before Bills
Spoiled For The Ordinary
Christian Political Fiction
The Bedford Review
Words on a Page
Reading, Writing and What Else is There?
Christian Novels
A Disciple's Steps
Scrambled Dregs
Collected Miscellany
The Bookshelf Review
See Ya On The Net
Wren Reviews
Musings From The Windowsill
Author Intrusion
Rhythms of Grace
Mimi's Pixie Corner
gritty and bright
Just A Minute
Illuminating Fiction
A Christian Worldview of Fiction
Booktalk & more...
Sean Slagle
Intertextual Me
Susan May Warren
Never Ceese - A Spiritual Fantasy
Scraps of Me
It's Real Life
Cookie Mix
In My Little World
The Savvy Christian Writer
Crazy about Coffee
Writes in His Sleep
Sword and Pen
the law, books, and life
books, movies and chinese food

Violet Dawn can be purchased at

Related links:
Brandilyn Collins keeps you in suspense ...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


International Thriller Writers (of which I am a member), has "adopted" the 14 debut novelists who are part of the Killer Year campaign for 2007. From ITW founding member MJ Rose:
Wouldn’t it be great if ITW as an organization could help the debut authors who are going to be the future of our genre? I was thrilled when this summer the full ITW board of directors approved the idea to adopt Killer Year 2007 and take some of the tough work out of being a debut.

ITW will sponsor a Killer Year breakfast at ThrillerFest ’07 where each of the debut novelists will be presented by his or her mentor to readers, reviewers and the press. After 2007, Killer Year will remain an ongoing program, with ITW welcoming a new class of debut novelists.

Killer Year website
Killer Year Press Release

Killer Year 2007
Brett Battles
JT Ellison
Jason Pinter
Sandra Ruttan
Rob Gregory Browne
Bill Cameron
Toni McGee Causey
Sean Chercover
Patry Francis
Marc Lecard
Derek Nikitas
Gregg Olsen
Marcus Sakey
Dave White

Sign up for the FREE "Thriller Readers Newsletter" and keep up with the latest profiles, news and reviews in the world of thriller fiction. Subscribers are also entered to win FREE BOOKS!

Michael Connelly in Nashville

For you mystery fans here in the Nashville area, the local chapter of Sisters in Crime meets every month at Davis-Kidd Booksellers. Our October meeting -- October 10, 6 p.m. -- happens to coincide with the appearance of Michael Connelly, who reads from and signs his latest, Echo Park.

From the Davis-Kidd newsletter: Line numbers, required for this event, are available with the purchase of Echo Park. (Vouchers are available for the book until its release date of October 9. Line numbers will be given out with the purchase of a voucher.)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Diagnosis -- MURDER!

Penguin celebrates the DVD release of the popular mystery series Diagnosis Murder by offering 15-percent off any or all of the tie-in novels on the Penguin website. The first six novels are available now; the seventh, The Double Life, comes out November 7. Offer valid for all orders received before and on Dec. 31, 2006 or while supplies last.

I must confess, I missed out on Diagnosis Murder when it was on TV -- so the DM novels I were more or less my introduction. They well-written mysteries, and also completely accessible to a new fan like me.

As of yesterday, we are now the proud owners of Diagnosis Murder season one; I can begin catching up! (They even include the original 1991 Jake and the Fatman episode that introduced the Dr. Sloane character.)

Related links:
Mr. Monk and the Syndicate

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Complete GET SMART reports on the upcoming mammoth DVD box set containing all five seasons of '60s spy spoof Get Smart. The site lists off the extras here and here. For the first year, it will only be available from Time-Life. From the press release:
Get Smart: The Complete Collection DVD set will be available exclusively from Time-Life via the Time-Life website ( for the first year. This super-sized, specially packaged collection contains every original, unedited episode from all five seasons of Get Smart—a total of 138 episodes on 25 DVDs! Get Smart: The Complete First Season will soon be available as a five-disc set with over two hours of bonus material, also through the Time-Life website and additionally through direct-response television commercials, with Seasons 2-5 to follow.
The series will be available in retail stores until Fall 2007.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: Forgiving Solomon Long

Although I have already written my third novel and turned it in to the publisher, I'm still getting new readers for my crime fiction debut, Forgiving Solomon Long.

Todd Greene's blog, Straitjacket Chillers, has just posted this review.

There is also a review in the September 2006 issue of Insights. See the review online here.

Crime Fiction Comics: ENLIGHTENMENT

When the book is available for purchase, I plan to point everybody to the supernatural crime thriller graphic novel series Enlightenment, written by my friend Tom Hall. (Some of you may remember Tom as writer for the comic strip "Billy," drawn by my wife.)

For now, though, those of you who like secret stuff might want to check out these deleted scenes ...

Monday, September 18, 2006

Somebody tell this guy about 'Deliver Us From Evelyn'

One of the go-to places for comics news and columns is Comic Book Resources. Now they have launched a new semi-regular series of features pointing comics fans to novels they might enjoy:
by Dave Richards, Staff Writer

In an effort to expose our readers to prose novels that they might find interesting, CBR News is launching a new, semi regular feature that puts the spotlight on books that might appeal to comic fans and the authors of such books. In this first installment we spoke with current "Moon Knight" writer Charlie Huston about his novels.
(Read the whole interview here.)

This is as good a time as any to remind readers about all the comic book-related goodness found in my own crime thrillers. Sample some of it for yourself with "The Golden Age," a self-contained excerpt from Deliver Us From Evelyn ...

Read Online
Download PDF
Print Ready

Related links:


Friday, September 15, 2006

Happy Birthday Agatha Christie

September 15 is the birthday of Dame Agatha Christie (1890-1976).

The official Agatha Christie website
Official site includes biography, bibliography, stories, and information about the Agatha Christie Society.

find a story -
about christie -
the detectives -
extras -

Related link: Hercule Poirot: Page to Screen


Today, we continue our interview with novelist Melanie Wells. BuddyHollywood's Mike Parker says, "Dallas-based psychologist turned novelist Melanie Wells knows how to weave a tale of human frailty laced with demonic treachery around a backdrop of such mundane reality that you can’t help but be sucked into the story." Her latest novel is the second volume in "Day of Evil" series, The Soul Hunter (Multnomah): A bloody axe at Dylan’s front door signals Peter Terry is back. He’s haunting minds, invading dreams, wrecking lives, and leaving her desperate for answers ...

* * *


Write, write, write. And then let people read what you’ve written, give yourself an inoculation against debilitating shame, and listen to what they have to say about your work. It’s the best possible way to learn how to write. I call it the Abject Humiliation Method. It works. It’s quick but painful.

How incredibly hard it is.

How much harder it would be to shingle houses in the South in the summertime. No crybabies!

Oh, geez, I wish I knew the answer to this. If you find out, will you tell me?

I joined the Author’s Guild as soon as I had a contract (you have to have a contract or a published work to qualify). I did it to receive free contract advice, which they publish, along with other perks regarding tricky issues that writers rarely understand. Totally worth the money. It would be even MORE worth it if they offered health benefits. Or discounts on Xanax. Whatever.

I was once a member of the Writer’s Union, which was pretty cool, b/c I got automatic membership in the United Autoworkers Union, and monthly copies of Solidarity Magazine, which made me feel like a revolutionary subversive lefty. They also had health benefits, which was my real reason for joining (not the vicarious association with Jimmy Hoffa, which was also sort of a thrill). They discontinued those in Texas, though, so I’m boycotting now. I think it’s working.

* * *

Many thanks to novelist Melanie Wells. Find her online at and For more about her dayjob at Lifeworks Counseling Group, go to

Related link: Q&A: MELANIE WELLS, PT 1

More mystery/suspense authors:
Q&A: SUSAN MEISSNER (Widows & Orphans)
Q&A: COLLEEN COBLE (Fire Dancer)
FIRST Day, Aug 1: FULL TILT by Creston Mapes
Q&A: ALTON GANSKY (Director's Cut)
Q&A: WANDA DYSON (Abduction)


Webcomics School

With the rising costs of print, one of the most viable options for modern comics is to go online. The webcomics blog Fleen shares their notes from the "Webcomics School" panel at San Diego ComicCon:

SDCC Recap: Webcomics 101 Class Notes
SDCC Recap: Webcomics 102 Class Notes
SDCC Recap: Webcomics 103 Class Notes (Part One)
SDCC Recap: Webcomics 103 Class Notes (Part Two)

Related links:
MILLER SISTERS: "Oh my goodness -- "

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Evanovich must be doing something right ...

September 29, author Janet Evanovich shares her secrets in How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author (St. Martin's). She tells USA TODAY, "I didn't have an easy time getting published, so I have warm feelings for other people trying to do it, and it's becoming more difficult all the time." According to the article, 20 million copies of her books are in print.

Related link: Review: "Eleven on Top"


Today and tomorrow we converse with novelist Melanie Wells, author of the spiritually charged mystery/thrillers When the Day of Evil Comes and The Soul Hunter (Multnomah). The child of musicians, Melanie attended university on a music scholarship (she's a fiddle player), and later completed graduate degrees in counseling psychology and Biblical studies. She is founder and director of LifeWorks Counseling Group in Dallas, Texas, a collaborative community of creative therapists.

* * *


Hm. Habits. That implies some sort of regularity and routine. The closest I can get to that is that I’ve set aside two days a week to write. On those days, I intend to have breakfast and go upstairs and get to work, break for lunch and possibly a workout and then get back to work, churning out thoughtful, cogent fiction.

What really happens is that I get up late, listen to NPR, have breakfast, read the paper, go upstairs and check email, check email some more, rearrange the items on my desk, check email again, work out halfheartedly, check email again, make phone calls, have lunch, and then do the whole thing over again.

Today I wrote for exactly two hours out of a 10-hour day. Unfortunately, that is the closest I can come to a habit.

Definitely a “make it up as I go” writer. I have a friend that took a YEAR to write the outline of her book. I can’t hang out with her anymore. She gives me hives.

The Dallas Morning News reviewer told me once that my main character made spirituality seem as normal as a woman carrying her purse. Also, I love it when people say my books are both funny and thought-provoking. That’s the gold ring for me.

I got a terrible review in D Magazine last year, but happily I’ve blacked the entire thing out of my memory. I have no idea what the man said, but I do remember it being obvious that he hadn’t read the book. I refrained from egging his house. I found out where he lives, of course.

I have 10 on my nightstand right now, all of which I’m reading. I just won’t finish any of them. The last book I finished was called Guests of the Ayatollah: The First Battle in America’s War with Militant Islam. It’s about the Iran hostage crisis, and it’s written by Mark Bowden, the dude who wrote Black Hawk Down and Killing Pablo. Gripping. Couldn’t put it down.

I read mostly non-fiction, so the subject matter is usually the thing for me. I’m a very curious person. I like books that teach me something, that are well-written, and that will pique my understanding of the world around me. Freakonomics, Blink, Madeline Albright’s memoir, Madame Secretary—these were fascinating books.

* * *

Come back tomorrow for the second half of our Q&A with novelist Melanie Wells. Find her online at and For more about her dayjob at Lifeworks Counseling Group, go to

Related link: Q&A: MELANIE WELLS, PT 2

More mystery/suspense authors:
Q&A: SUSAN MEISSNER (Widows & Orphans)
Q&A: COLLEEN COBLE (Fire Dancer)
FIRST Day, Aug 1: FULL TILT by Creston Mapes
Q&A: ALTON GANSKY (Director's Cut)
Q&A: WANDA DYSON (Abduction)


Ellroy has the last word

This weekend, The Black Dahlia opens in theaters. Directed by Brian DePalma, the movie is based on the classic James Ellroy novel about the famous unsolved 1947 murder. Ellroy talks to Pasadena Weekly about the case, the murder of his own mother, and his book tour for the movie and novel:
"This is my farewell tour to two things: my mother's death and the Black Dahlia. It's over. After this tour, I will never answer another question about these things. It's an idea whose time has come and gone."
Related links:
Death in Hollywood

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Break it up

Another anthology in October is the crime fiction/horror collection THOU SHALT NOT:
Breaking the Commandments Anew
Ever broken one of God's "Big Ten"? Of course you have. We all have. What were the results? A little guilt? Did you disappoint yourself or someone else? Or did no one even notice? Thou Shalt Not... is an anthology of horror and crime fiction where someone breaks one of the Ten Commandments with dire, deadly, or disastrous results.
Dark Cloud Press is a new imprint for horror, dark crime, and the psychological thriller. For more information, find them online at

Shoot the works

If you read my debut crime fiction novel, Forgiving Solomon Long, then you probably know I have an affinity for stories about hitmen.

Hitting shelves this October is the new crime fiction anthology These Guns For Hire (Bleak House Books), a collection of original tales of hired killers. Author J.A. Konrath, the project's editor, writes in the introduction: "These Guns For Hire offers readers a unique opportunity, to vicariously experience some very bad people, courtesy of the best writers in the mystery thriller genre. They’re all here. Cold blooded mobsters (Rob Kantner, Victor Gischler), series characters from novels (David Morrell, Lawrence Block, Max Allan Collins), humorous killers (Brian Wiprud, Jeff Strand), hit women (Libby Fischer Hellmann, MJ Rose), and even some forays into the supernatural (Jay Bonansinga, Robert W. Walker)."

Repairman Jack creator F. Paul Wilson offers the following praise: "These Guns for Hire contains an amazing variety of stories on a single subject: the hitman. You'll find hilarity and cold unflinching horror and every shade between. A Who's-Who list of writers in a must-read collection for fans of crime, suspense, and noir."

Contributors (click on the links for bios and story excerpts)

Jeff Abbott, "Seize Your Future"
Raymond Benson, "Another Rock 'n' Roll Hit"
Michael A. Black, "The Black Rose"
Lawrence Block, "Keller's Designated Hitter"
Jay Bonansinga, "There's Somebody Here Wants to Talk to You"
Ken Bruen, "Punk"
Reed Farrel Coleman, "Bat-Head Speed"
Max Allan Collins, "Guest Services"
Sean Doolittle, "The Professional"
David Ellis, "The Shining Knight"
John Galligan, "Man Hit"
Victor Gischler, "They Always Get You"
Ed Gorman, "Beauty"
Mitchell Graham, "The Lourve Cafe"
Jeremiah Healy, "The Confessional"
Libby Fischer Hellmann, "Detour"
Julie Hyzy, "Strictly Business"
Rob Kantner, "Dead Last"
JA Konrath, "Bereaved"
William Kent Krueger, "Absolution"
Benjamin M. LeRoy, "Letters from Home"
Lisa Mannetti, "Everybody Wins"
David Morrell, "The Attitude Adjuster"
Monica J. O'Rourke, "Bloodshed Fred"
P.J. Parrish, "Gutter Snipes"
M.J. Rose, "Not Shy, Not Retiring"
Jeff Strand, "Poor Career Choice"
Paul A. Toth, "Nice Kids Carry Guns"
Robert W. Walker, "Pet Project"
Brian M. Wiprud, "When You're Right, You're Right"

For more about the book, visit

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Books for Troops

Mystery novelist (and hero to authors everywhere) J.A. Konrath issues a challenge to send books to the troops in Iraq: A Newbie's Guide to Publishing: Books for Troops

My friend Doug Hansen, whom I've known since 7th grade, is now in Iraq. In a recent email he mentioned that he bought a bunch of my books to pass around---apparently his unit is starved for entertainment.

I told him that I'd send him more books for the troops for him to distribute. Then I got to thinking---how cool would it be if his unit became the best read bunch of soldiers in the entire US military?

We all have extra books lying around, taking up space. Many of us are writers, and we have extra copies of our novels. I'm asking you to send a few to:

SFC Douglas Hansen
C Co / 163 MI Bn
COB Speicher
APO AE 09393

Postage won't cost much (it's considered domestic rate), and you'll be helping boost morale in a big way. Feel free to include a note or a letter telling them to get home safely.

Please pass this address around. I think it would be incredibly cool if Doug got so many books he began a US library in Baghdad.

Whoever sends the most books to Iraq (be honest) gets signed first editions of my first three novels, in hardcover. Post the number you've sent on, or email me at You have until the end of the month to get your books mailed.

Interviews with mystery/thriller authors

I have finally sent KINGDOM COME (2007) off to my publisher (let the editorial bloodletting begin!). In the past few weeks, I have gotten behind on posting interviews with mystery/thriller authors here at Learning Curve. We have several Q&As in hand already, and more in the works, so we hope to get back on schedule soon.

In the meantime, a look back at our previous guests ...

Susan Meissner, Widows and Orphans, Pt 1 (29 Aug 06)
Sandra Brown, Ricochet, 11 Aug 06
Colleen Coble, Fire Dancer, Pt 1 (07 Aug 06)
Alton Gansky, Director's Cut, Pt 1 (28 Jul 06)
Wanda Dyson, Intimidation, Pt 1 (21 Jul 06)
Cornelia Read, Field of Darkness, Pt 1 (13 Jul 06)
T.L. Hines, Waking Lazarus, Pt 1 (28 Jun 06)
Lorena McCourtney, On the Run, Pt 1 (12 Jun 06)
Kathryn Mackel, The Hidden, Pt 1 (29 May 06)
Mindy Starns Clark, Blind Dates Can Be Murder, Pt 1 (22 May 06)
Ginny Aiken, Decorating Schemes, Pt 1 (10 May 06)
Robert Liparulo, Comes a Horseman, Pt 1 (20 Apr 06)
Vicki Hinze, Bulletproof Princess, Pt 1 (05 Apr 06)
Tasha Alexander, And Only to Deceive, Pt 1 (29 Mar 06)
Creston Mapes, Full Tilt, Pt 1 (22 Mar 06)
Lonnie Cruse, Murder In Metropolis, Pt 1 (09 Mar 06)
Thomas O'Callaghan, Bone Thief, Pt 1 (15 Feb 06)
Brandilyn Collins, Web of Lies, Pt 1 (08 Feb 06)
Buzz Dixon, Serenity, Pt 1 (24 Jan 06)
Randy Singer, Self Incrimination, Pt 1 (26 Dec 05)
James Scott Bell, Sins of the Fathers Pt 1 (19 Dec 05)
Anne Rice, Christ The Lord (21 Nov 05)

Deliver Us From Evelyn
(Harvest House Publishers)
Chris Well

Everyone from the Feds to the mob is scrambling to find the husband of heartless media mogul Evelyn Blake. But no one can decide which is worsethat he is missing, or that she is not ...

Bond Begins

A new trailer and all manner of preview videos are available for Casino Royale, the new film that "reloads" 007 with star Daniel Craig.

However: 1) I do not have a problem with them going back to the beginning for the character. 2) I do not have a problem with Dame Judi Dench once again playing the role of M. My dilemma is that these should not both happen in the SAME FILM.

My wife has explained it thus: Casino Royale is essentially launching an entire new parallel universe for Bond. But I can't decide whether that makes it work for me ...

Friday, September 08, 2006

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Hope for us all

I am finally catching up on some back issues of Wired, and came across an especially interesting article on the two different life cycles of creativity. It turns out that there is a chartable phenomenon that shows how most creative people in any field—writing, music, even science—fall into one of two categories: Those who peak early, and those who work their way up to success later.

What Kind of Genius Are You?
A novel theory suggests that there are two distinct types of creativity—quick and dramatic, or careful and quiet.

An excerpt:
But we should also leave room for those of us who have, er, avoided peaking too early, whose most innovative days may lie ahead. Nobody would have heard of Jackson Pollock had he died at 31. But the same would be true had Pollock given up at 31. He didn’t. He kept at it. We need to look at that more halting, less certain fellow and perhaps not write him off too early, give him a chance to ride the upward curve of middle age.
While we're discussing this particular issue of the magazine, this article was pretty informative, too ...

The Rise and Fall of the Hit
The era of the blockbuster is so over. Niche is now king, and the entertainment industry will never be the same. An excerpt from The Long Tail.

It always comes down to the index cards ...

Am now about 2/3 through my final draft of Kingdom Come, and coming around the bend for the big finish. As has been the case for three consecutive novels now, I had to sit down with a stack of index cards and work out each chapter in this section ... and move the chapters around so the story is told in the correct order. (That happens with an ensemble novel.)

I am thrilled with how this one is turning out. It should certainly get a lot of people talking.

In the meantime, those of you still waiting for your copies of 40 And Counting: Comics and 40 And Counting: Whatnot, I expect to have those assembled shortly and emailed to you before the end of the month.

Just please let me finish this novel.


Mirathon: Peter Kreeft on Pride vs Humility

Our friend Mir points the way to an essay by the brilliant author and philosopher Peter Kreeft. You should read his fiction -- he often intersects famous philosophers from history, using narrative techniques to examine their belief system. Books like Between Heaven and Hell (an imagined conversation in the afterlife among C.S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy, and Aldous Huxley -- all of whom died within hours of each other) and Socrates Meets Jesus are as engaging as they are thought-provoking.

Mirathon: Peter Kreeft on Pride vs Humility

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Mr. Monk and the Syndicate

MediaWeek's Programming Insider reports that the detective series Monk is now headed for syndication. NBC Universal Television Distribution has sold the show to local broadcast stations covering more than 80 percent of the country for a fall 2008 launch. The dramedy, starring Emmy-winner Tony Shalhoub, currently airs on USA.

Related links:

"Oh my goodness -- "

Erica Well's online comic strip The Miller Sisters continues with episode #111. Julia's inherited superpowers are revealed -- so, what does a Christian college girl do now?

(If you don't see the latest strip, click the "refresh" button on your browser.)

Listing at

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Death in Hollywood

Two new films coming to theaters this month are inspired by true-life Hollywood murder mysteries:

This Friday, Hollywoodland digs into the mysterious 1959 death of George Reeves. Was it a suicide? Was it murder?

The following weekend comes Black Dahlia, set in the 1940s. Based on the book by James Ellroy, the film revolves around the most famous unsolved murder in L.A.'s history.

Headlines at Yahoo! News:
New film probes 1959 'Superman' death
Ellroy impressed by screen version of his 'Black Dahlia'

More huzzahs for EVELYN

We continue to get great reviews for my latest laugh-out-loud crime thriller Deliver Us From Evelyn (Harvest House), recently Amazon's #2 Christian mystery/thriller and Technorati's #1 most-discussed book on the Web.

Reviewer Barbara Warren posts at Amazon: "Deliver Us From Evelyn is witty, suspenseful, and a fast-paced page turner. I liked it even better than Forgiving Solomon Long."

And on Infuze Magazine, reviewer C.J. Darlington glows: "Compelling, quirky, and engaging, Deliver Us From Evelyn will be a welcome addition to your bookshelf."

Related links:
All aboard for Christian fiction and music!
EVELYN: #1 at Technorati!

Novel Journey: Tess Gerritsen, John Robinson

For fans of mystery/thriller fiction, the blog Novel Journey has a couple of new interviews of note:

Tess Gerritsen, author of The Mephisto Club (Ballantine)

John Robinson, author of To Skin a Cat (Cook)

More mystery/thriller author interviews:

Q&A: SUSAN MEISSNER (Widows & Orphans)
Q&A: COLLEEN COBLE (Fire Dancer)
Q&A: ALTON GANSKY (Director's Cut)
Q&A: WANDA DYSON (Abduction)
Q&A: T.L. HINES (Waking Lazarus)


Friday, September 01, 2006

FIRST Day: Squat by Taylor Field

It is September 1, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and their latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's author: Taylor Field
"We live in a squat. We don’t know squat. We don’t have squat. We don’t do squat. We don’t give a squat. People say we’re not worth squat."

Taylor Field has worked since 1986 in the inner city of New York where he is pastor of East Seventh Baptist Church/Graffiti Community Ministries. He holds a M.Div. from Princeton and Ph.D. from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. Among his previous books is the award-winning Mercy Streets. Field and his family live in New York, New York.

If you want to know more, please visit The SQUAT Website!

To order Squat, click HERE.

Author interview contact is Andrea Irwin at Broadman & Holman.

Please Note:
All author proceeds from Squat will go to Graffiti Community Ministries, Inc., a service arm of the East Seventh Street Baptist Church on the Lower East Side of Manhattan where Field preaches.

Back Cover Copy: In the shadow of Wall Street’s wealth, homeless citizens with names like Squid, Saw, and Bonehead live in abandoned buildings known as "squats" where life is hand to mouth, where fear and violence fester. The light in lovable Squid’s obsessive-compulsive mind’s eye is Rachel, a loving soup kitchen missionary who tells him about faith and unfaith, hypocrisy and justice, the character of God and finding identity in Him.

But among the squats and so many other abandoned lives, will such talk be enough to make Squid believe that his life may actually amount to something?


CALMLY, THE GIRL on the sofa reached out and pulled up a flap of skin on the little boy’s thin arm. It could have been a gesture of affection. But then she pinched the skin and twisted it. Hard.

“Ouch!” He whipped his pencil in front of her face once, like a club, and then cracked it on her forehead. He pulled the pencil back, ready to strike her again, crouching against the back of the couch like a cornered weasel.

The little girl wrinkled up her round freckled face but did not cry out. She looked toward her mom, who was talking to the receptionist. The boy’s mom, seated across the room, didn’t look up. She continued to look through the pages of her magazine, snapping each page like a whip.

“You could have put my eye out!” the freckled girl hissed.

The boy rubbed the two blue marks on his arm. He looked her steadily in the eyes and growled.

His mom called him over. “Come sit by me, honey, and stop making so much noise.” She patted his hair down in the back and smiled at him. She wore lots of eyeliner and widened her eyes to make even sitting in a waiting room seem like an adventure. “You’re such a big man, now,” she had said this morning as she combed his hair and helped him put on his best shirt. She was humming “Getting to Know You” even though her voice quivered just a little. She had put a lot of extra perfume and sprays on this morning. She smelled like the women’s aisle in a drugstore.

Once the little girl’s mom finished with the receptionist and returned to the sofa, the little girl started crying with one soft, unending whine.

The boy rolled his eyes and looked for a book to bury his head in.

“What’s wrong, honey?” the mom asked as she swept her little girl up.

“That boy hit me.”

A stuffy silence reigned in the waiting room except for the sound of the bubbles in the aquarium above the magazine table. The girl’s mother glared at the boy and then at his mother. The boy picked up a children’s book with some torn pages and began studying it seriously. His mom hadn’t been listening to the girl. She was still snapping through the magazine’s pages.

Finally, she threw it down with disgust and looked at her watch again. “I’m going outside to smoke a cigarette, honey,” she said, oblivious to the stares of the mother and daughter across the room. She stood up, adjusted her dress with an efficient tug, and stepped outside the office. They gaped at her departure with their mouths open, like two goldfish.

The aquarium continued to gurgle. In the following silence, the little boy became dramatically interested in the book in front of him. It had been pawed over by a lot of children waiting in this doctor’s office, and the first few pages had been torn out. The pages that remained had rounded corners and smudges along the edges. The little boy squinted his eyes in exaggerated concentration. He preferred the smudged pictures to the astonished fish eyes of the adult across the room.

He studied a picture of a man who wore a robe down to his ankles. He had a beard and a sad look in his eyes. In front of him was a young man with no beard, lying on a stone with his hands tied. The man with a beard had a knife in his hand and had his hand raised high up as if he were going to stab the boy. Out of a cloud an angel was reaching out to grab the hand of the man. The angel hadn’t touched the man yet, but his hand was getting close. The man didn’t yet know that the angel was there.

The boy forgot about the girl and her mother. The color of the man’s robe was so deep and blue. The angel’s wings were more gold than his mother’s best bracelet. The boy on the stone had a robe that was silvery-white like clouds. The sun in the background was redder than any sun he had ever seen. It was as red as a hot dog. The little boy felt he was swimming in this world of rich colors and robes, a sleepy world tempered by the sound of the bubbles in the doctor’s aquarium. The boy put his finger above the picture book, to the right of the book, and then to the left of the book. “One, two, three. One, two, three. One, two, three,” he whispered to himself, touching each of the three points three times.

His mom opened the door and came back in. The summer heat from outside reached in to bathe him in warmth. She shut the door with exasperation. She sat down beside him, reeking of cigarette smoke and hair spray. She adjusted his collar and gave him a nervous smile. “You’re such a big man now,” she said and patted his hair again.

The boy pointed to the man in the robe in the picture. “Mom, is that boy that man’s son?”

“I don’t know, honey.” She picked up the same magazine again and started ripping through it at lightning speed.

“What’s he doing with the knife, Mom?”

His mom gave a half smile and looked at the picture absentmindedly. “He’s protecting his boy from someone who might hurt him. Stay still, honey. Why is the doctor making us wait so long? If he doesn’t see us by twelve, we’ll have to leave. He ought to pay us for making us wait.”

The boy studied the picture again.

“That’s Abraham, stupid,” the little girl stage-whispered from across the room.

The boy looked at her and scowled. “Yeah, like you know.”

She stuck her tongue out at him and turned it upside down.

His mom backhanded a few more pages, put the magazine down, and looked him in the eyes. She beamed. “Honey, I have a surprise for you. I’ve been waiting to tell you, and I’ve been looking for the right moment. I guess no moment is really the right moment. At 12:15 today we are going to see Sammy again. He’s come back. He’ll be waiting for us at our place. Isn’t that exciting? Everything will be different. You’ll be nice to him, won’t you? Honey, don’t bite your thumbs, you’ll make them bleed again.”

The boy wouldn’t look at his mom. He stared down at the picture of the man with the knife. Then he looked up at the clock above the receptionist. The little hand was close to the twelve and the big hand was on the eight. He turned the page of the book and another page was torn out. The next page after the torn one had a picture of a man sleeping with his head on a rock. He didn’t have a beard and he looked scared. His robe was a dull gray and looked dirty, but in the background, angels were coming up and down out of the sky on a shimmering stairway.

“I want to camp out on my own like this guy does, away from everybody, away from the house,” he told his mom.

“That’s sweet, honey,” she said as she finished the magazine again and looked at her watch.

The little boy’s lips moved as he carefully scrutinized the words beneath the picture of the man camping out. His eyes got wider. He traced a word with his finger. He almost forgot where he was. “I want to be like this guy,” he whispered.

A man in a suit breezed in and talked to the receptionist. Immediately his mom sat up straighter. The man finished with the receptionist and turned around and looked for a seat. His mom widened her eyes and smiled at the man. He smiled back.

The next page of the book was also torn out. On the following page was the best picture of all. A youth was wearing a beautiful robe with many different stripes of colors. He seemed so happy and looked as though nothing bad would ever happen to him. A man with a white beard was smiling next to him in the picture. The boy stared at the colors in the book for a long time. If he focused his eyes beyond the page, the colors blurred together like rainbow ice cream. Somehow looking at it kept his stomach from hurting so badly.

“Mom, I want a coat like this one.”

His mom looked at the picture for a moment. Her tone sounded much more patient with him now that the new man was in the waiting room. “Everybody wants a coat like that, honey. You’ll get yours one day.”

The little girl stretched her freckled face up as high as she could so she could see the picture. “That’s Joseph, you toad,” she said hoarsely from across the room. “Don’t you ever go to church?”

Her mother pulled her back close to her lap and said, “Hush.”

The boy looked at the clock. The big hand was on the nine. “Mom, let’s just stay here. It’s nice and cool and our air conditioner doesn’t work at home. I like looking at the books here. I like the fish. Let’s just stay here and not go back home. It’s too hot there.”

His mom looked at her watch again. “Why are your hands so clammy, sweetie? You’re making the book wet. What’s wrong with you? Stop biting your thumb or you’ll make it bleed right before we see the doctor. Do you want to get me into even more trouble?” She smiled at the man as she got up and walked past him to the receptionist. “Could you tell me how much longer it will be until we can see the doctor? I have another urgent appointment.” She conferred with the receptionist for a few minutes in hushed tones.

The boy found an envelope in the back of the book with all the colorful pictures. It had bright green writing on it and a red border. The envelope said you could send off for more books with other stories. The boy looked up at the little girl across the room. She was yanking on her mother’s sleeve and whispering something in her ear. She was probably talking about the boy’s mom. While making sure the girl was still looking at her own mom, he carefully folded the envelope once and put it in his jean pocket.

The girl was staring insolently at him again. He wanted to do something to the book. He wanted to add a character to protect the boy from the father with the knife. He reached in his other pocket and pulled out half a red crayon. He wanted to draw a picture in the book. He wanted to put someone in there to help that angel keep that boy from getting cut, but he knew that the girl on the opposite couch would never let him get away with drawing in the book. He pulled out his stack of baseball cards as she continued to stare. He carried only Yankees. He pulled his prize Reggie Jackson card from the stack and began to place it in the book but decided against it. He pulled out a relief pitcher, Dick Tidrow. He would be a good enough guard to help the angel. Then he put the card carefully in the page where the sad man was dressed in the long robe and holding the knife. He made sure that the edge of the card was exactly parallel to the edge of the book. He knew the girl was watching him. He closed the book very slowly and with great respect. Very quietly, with just one finger, he touched three sides of the book again, three times. “One, two, three. One, two, three. One, two, three,” he said under his breath. He put the book down gently on the table and then put both hands on his stomach and doubled over until his head touched his knees. A groan came out of him before he knew it.

The little girl sneered at him, “You’re nuts!” Her mom held her closer and made a shushing sound.

The boy looked at the clock again as his mom plopped down on the sofa with a snort. The big hand was already past the eleven. “Mom, let’s stay here. We’ve already waited a long time. Let’s stay.”

“Straighten up, sweetie. Why are you bent over? Everything is going to be fine. Soon we will see Sammy and everything will be different. It won’t be like last time. You’ll see. Everything will be fine.” She looked at her watch again then got up to talk to the receptionist. She seemed to be talking faster and faster. Finally she marched back to her son and said firmly, “We’re going now. We’ll have to come back another day. Let’s go, honey. Straighten up and stop frowning.”

She grabbed his hand, but he grabbed the arm of the sofa with his other hand. The arm of the sofa had padding on the top, but a metal support on the side. It was just right for grabbing. She pulled and his knuckles whitened. “Come on, sweetie, don’t be silly.” She smiled at the man and the other mother. She was petite and could not get her son to loosen his grip. He was small for an eleven-year-old, but his grasp was almost as strong as his mother’s. She reached to loosen his grip with her hand, but he simply grabbed the arm of the sofa with his other hand.

She smiled sweetly to the man and said, “Would you mind helping me, please?”

He hesitated, got up awkwardly, and began to loosen the grip of the other hand. The aquarium began to rumble like a volcano, and both the receptionist and the other mother stood up. The boy was stretched out like a cartoon as the mother pulled and the man pried his fingers from the sofa. In the middle of the hubbub, the little girl came up to hold his torso, as if to protect him from falling. Where her mother couldn’t see, she grabbed the sensitive skin next to his ribs and pulled and twisted at the same time as hard as she could.

In the tussle, the book with the men in robes fell to the floor and the little girl slipped on it. The baseball card slid underneath the sofa. The receptionist picked up the phone to call someone. The other mother grabbed for her daughter. The little boy squealed a high squeal; he was a desperate guinea pig grabbed by many hands.

Finally, the man got both hands loose, and his mom dragged him by the torso and opened the door. He clutched at the frame of the door but couldn’t hold on. By that time, some people in white coats came out with the receptionist and shouted as his mom dragged him out to the steaming parking lot. His mother roared back at them with a curse. He cried and whimpered for help as he got one last glimpse of the girl looking out at him from the waiting room window. She stood with her hands on her hips and her tongue sticking out.

Until he ran away from home, a number of years later, the little boy never went back to a doctor.

Die Laughing: Funny Crime and Mystery Fiction


A woman with a complicated past returns home to become the small town's new sheriff. Best Mann For The Job is by the writer/artist team of Chris and Erica Well. Read it from the beginning at Watch the trailer on YouTube.