Friday, June 3, 2016

Covers Sell the Book, They Say

The cover is the first thing a potential reader sees when he/she encounters a book. In a store, if the cover is intriguing enough, they'll probably leaf through a few pages, maybe check the blurb on the back. But it's the design of that front cover that first catches their eye. I have some pretty good covers in my two PI series, but I'm happier with those on my last four books, the Post Cold War Political Thriller Trilogy and my first standalone, Hellbound. These were all produced by talented designer Stephen Walker of Atlanta.

Each cover is based on the story in the book, though, of course, it won't be obvious until you read it. But Stephen has put together the story elements in an exciting way. Here's a rundown:

The first book in the trilogy, Beware the Jabberwock, deals with an attempt by ex-Soviet hardliners and discontents in the U.S. to restore their hold on power through a shocking action in Toronto. The cover features American and Soviet symbols along with a mortar firing in front of the Toronto skyline. Burke Hill, ex-FBI agent who becomes clandestine director for a Washington PR firm that's a CIA spinoff, appears in all three books.

For the second book, it's a black cover that highlights a night view of South Korea's National Treasure No. 1, Seoul's Great South Gate. The title at the top—The Poksu Conspiracy—includes the Korean word for "vengeance." It has a different meaning in Chinese, which you'll learn in the book. Just beneath the photograph are the hangul (Korean) characters for poksu. The plot involves vengeance taken upon civilian leaders in South Korea who favor close cooperation with America.

The last book in the trilogy, Overture to Disaster, has a cover that features two images that relate to the plot. The one that fills most of the area shows a row of cannons firing, with a hammer and sickle showing faintly in the darkness above, covered in part by a large "DISASTER." At the top, beside a smaller "OVERTURE," flies an Air Force MH-53J Pave Low III helicopter. All of these images tie into the story, which involves a faction of former KGB operatives carrying out a disastrous scheme in Washington as part of an effort to revive the old Soviet Union.

The cover for Hellbound, my favorite, shows the back of a bus in flames, partially covered by the title in small-to-large letters. In  this dramatic scene, the plot is capsuled in smaller letters: "The Mafia targets a busload of seniors..." The plot involves a bus full of seniors from a suburban Nashville church, which, unknown to the other passengers, includes a man who years before decimated a Mafia "family" with his testimony in federal court.

It is certainly logical that the cover sells the book, but the cover must be seen to be sold. Unfortunately, these days most of us don't find our books on the shelf in a store. Our covers aren't seen unless we get them out there in some sort of promotion, like on BookBub or Freebooksy or Awesome Gang or you name it. Twitter, Facebook, etc. But I'll keep going for great covers and hope they're seen.

Visit me at ChesterDCampbell.com.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Memorable Tour of the Holy Land



One of the most interesting trips I've made took place late in 1998 when I visited the Holy Land. Being a mystery writer, though not published at the time, I viewed most places on the trip with an eye to how they might be used in a novel. I bought a camcorder just before heading to the Middle East and took about three hours of videos during the tour.

Traveling by Royal Jordanian Airlines, we flew into Amman and spent a day cruising by bus through the mostly desolate Jordanian desert to visit two interesting sites. We stood on Mount Nebo where Moses gazed across the Jordan River before his death. Then we toured the ancient city of Petra, made famous by one of its striking building fronts carved out of rose sandstone being used in the climax of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Our first taste of the dichotomy between Israel and its neighbors came as we approached the Allenby Bridge over the Jordan River. It’s called the King Hussein bridge on the east side. We had to leave the Jordanian bus and board an Israeli bus for the crossing.

Jericho provided our first taste of the Promised Land, the same as Joshua in the Bible. Billed as the world’s oldest and lowest city (820 feet below sea level), its ancient tel, or archeological site, has been peeled back to reveal 26 layers of civilization dating back to 8000 B.C. Heading on to the Holy City, we checked into our hotel in East Jerusalem, the Arab district.

Our savvy Nashville travel agent, who joined us on the tour, booked us through a tour company run by two Palestinian brothers (who, incidentally, attended the University of Tennessee). He said we wouldn’t have any trouble in the Palestinian territories as they knew the bus was owned by Arabs.

For the next few days, we shuttled around various Jerusalem sites, plus Bethlehem, the Dead Sea Scroll caves at Qumran, the Dead Sea shoreline, and Masada. We were advised to steer clear of the West Bank hotbeds of Hebron and Ramallah. We visited such fascinating spots as Hezekiah’s Tunnel, dug 1,500 feet through the rock from both ends at once in 700 BC. We also toured the Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls; Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum; the Temple Mount with its striking Dome of the Rock; the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built on several levels and occupied by several different religious groups.

One of the more interesting stops was an Arab market filled with small but colorful shops. We had to stop and try the Israeli’s favorite fast food, a falafel (spiced chickpea fritter) tucked into pita bread.

During the next week, we traveled north through Samaria, with a stop at Jacob’s Well, heading into the fertile Yizreel Valley. We visited Mount Meggido, called Armageddon in Revelations, walking among the ruins, including a trip down 183 steps to see the historic water tunnel. Then it was on to the Sea of Galilee, where we stayed in Nazareth. We sailed on the sea in a fishing boat allegedly like the one Jesus rode in. They dipped in a net, but it came up empty.

We toured biblical sites around the Galilee, also known as Lake Kinneret, including the Mount of the Beatitudes, Capernaum, and churches dedicated to various incidents such as the multiplication of loaves and fishes. We visited the attractive Kibbutz Ein Gev and traveled up the steep slopes of the Golan Heights to an old artillery emplacement looking down over the kibbutz where Syrian gunners fired on the Israeli settlers.

Our tour began to wind down with a visit to Mount Carmel, where Elijah vanquished the priests of Baal. Then we headed for Israel’s third largest metropolitan area, Haifa. The hillside Baha’i Shrine and Gardens provided a striking panorama, as did a view of the Haifa port. Afterward, we headed south along the Mediterranean to the historic city of Caesarea, built by King Herod.

At the outdoor Roman Theater, our guide stood on the stage and showed how a normal voice could be heard all around the seating area. We also checked out the ruins of Herod’s hippodrome, which had seating for 20,000 people. Then we toured the remains of the king’s port, now part of the Crusader city. Just beyond this stood a Roman aqueduct built in the A.D. 100’s. It had steps leading up so we could walk along a section of the monstrous project.

After overnighting in a seaside hotel at Netanya, we headed into Tel Aviv, the country’s commercial center. Our final stop was the old port city of Jaffa on Tel Aviv’s south side. Old Jaffa had a special attraction for me, with its warren of stair-step streets through the reconstructed ruins of Turkish palaces, flanked by pastel colored artist’s studios, galleries, and outdoor cafes.

In fact, the experience led me to open the first chapter in Secret of the Scroll, my initial Greg McKenzie mystery, in Old Jaffa.

On our flight home from Amman, I read in the Royal Jordanian magazine about an archeological dig at Bethany in Jordan, the area where John the Baptist preached. It mentioned finding caves that had been occupied by monks in the early centuries. I thought what if someone found an ancient scroll in one of those caves. After I got home, it quickly developed into a plot. Happily, I had my videos to help out.

I used much of my travel experience to tell the story, sending Greg and Jill McKenzie on an identical trip. Many of the locations appear just as they did to me. You can read the opening chapters on Amazon at this link. Give it a moment to switch to the Look Inside.

Visit my website at ChesterDCampbell.com.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

On Series Writing and Small Presses

I've done lots of interviews over the past decade-plus, but one I particularly like appeared in Poe's Deadly Daughters, which has since been discontinued. The interview was done about the time I started my second PI series with The Surest Poison. It includes some views on series writing and the pros and cons of small presses. The interview was done by Sharon Wildwind; "PPD" stands for Poe's Deadly Daughters.


PDD:
You now have four books in your Greg McKenzie series. Why did you decide to write another PI series with a different type of protagonist?

Chester:
I enjoyed writing about Greg and Jill McKenzie, a pair of sleuths in their late sixties. Writing their snappy banter was particularly enjoyable. Several reviewers referred to them as cozies. I didn’t think of the books that way, but they’re certainly not hard-boiled, and I felt I’d reached the place where I wanted to strike out on a bit edgier path.


The Surest Poison deals with the dumping of a large amount of a toxic chemical behind a small plant in a rural community west of Nashville. When the state comes after the plant’s current owner, PI Sid Chance is hired to find the real responsible party. He soon finds himself, and his associate, Jaz LeMieux, beset by three seemingly unrelated murders, an explosion, and shadows from Sid’s past.

PPD:
I gather Sid has—what’s the current term—issues?

Chester:
He was formerly a National Park ranger, then spent ten years as a small town police chief. After he was disgraced and forced to resign, he spent three years roughing it in a hillside cabin in the woods fifty miles from the city. Jaz got him out of that cabin, back to Nashville and into the PI business.

PPD:
Jaz is sharp, sexy, and fourteen years younger than Sid. Do we see romance ahead?

Chester
A. Sid has never been married, or even had a serious relationship. He and Jaz clash now and then, but they’re obviously coming closer. Who knows what may lie ahead?

PPD:
Where did the plot for The Surest Poison come from?

Chester:
I have a friend in Nashville named Norma Mott Tillman who is a private investigator specializing in finding missing persons. She’s pretty well known, being on Oprah and several other shows. She told me about a case she had investigated in West Tennessee a few years ago that involved a similar scenario. I saw the possibilities, moved it closer to Nashville, and the story took off.

I should have given Ralph Waldo Emerson credit for the title, but I don’t guess he’ll complain. He wrote an essay in The Atlantic back in 1862 in which he said substances like prussic acid and strychnine “are weak dilutions: the surest poison is time.” I thought it fit the story. The actual poison took years to affect the community, while time took its toll on the characters.

PPD:
The Surest Poison is published by Night Shadows Press, your second small publisher. What are the pluses and minuses of going with a small publisher?

Chester:
I’ve heard a lot of New York editors are only concerned with acquiring manuscripts. With a small press, I got to work closely with my editors. I learned an awful lot from my first editor.

I’ve also been fortunate that my editors have stuck with my suggested titles. The only change in mine was with the first book, which I called The Secret of the Scroll. I was rightfully told to leave off the first “The.” Covers involve another plus. I have had total input on all my covers. An additional favorable aspect is production time. From the time I sent the manuscript to the editor, it was no more than nine months until the release date.

On the minus side, the chief problem is distribution. The books are available through Ingram and Baker & Taylor and can be ordered through any bookstore. However, the stores do not routinely stock them. They will only be on the shelf at places where I have done signings. Also, the major review sites mostly ignore small publishers. Library Journal is the only one that has reviewed some of my books. However, respected review sites like Midwest Book Review and Crimespree Magazine always come through.

PPD:
I’m not telling secrets to say that loads of us in the mystery community envy your ability to do top-notch book signings. Got tips for the rest of us?

Chester:
I’m always looking for any kind of venue where I can sell. One of my grandsons’ school has a Market Place. I went there and to a street fair in a small town not far from here. My book launch for The Surest Poison will be at my church. Church members are always asking, “When will your next book be ready?” So I know I’ll sell a bunch of books there. I do some signings in larger chain bookstores as well, and we have a small mystery bookstore in Nashville that pushes my books and has ordered several copies of the new one.

I’m pulling out all the stops for this new release, primarily on-line. With the economy as it is, I’m cutting back on travel this year, spending more on venues where I can sell books. I’ve recently done the Southern Kentucky Book Fest, and will do the Kentucky Book Fair in November. I’ve always done well at book fairs.

So I guess my tips are get on the road, do bookstore signings when you can, and constantly keep your eye out for other places to sell. Build a team. I’m very fortunate that my wife plays such a big part in all of my appearances. She’s my shill: she passes out small promo folders and directs people to where I’m signing. If you’re not as lucky as I am, with a ready-made co-conspirator, build a team to help you sell.

PDD:
It sounds like retiring to write books has been very rewarding.

Chester:
I’d say there are several rewards. The first is that I simply enjoy writing mysteries. I wrote eight before the first one sold, and I guess I’d still be writing away if none of them had. Another is the satisfaction I get when readers tell me how much they enjoy reading my books. And being a bit vain as we all are, I get a charge out of reading a good review, like the one Jon Jordan wrote in the current Crimespree Magazine that ended, “A top rate mystery by a gem of a writer.”


Website: http://www.chesterdcampbell.com

Monday, April 18, 2016

Wrtiing the Private Eye

The Private Eye Novel has been a favorite of American reading audiences since back in the thirties. Its early popularity grew out of such characters as Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade, Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer, and John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee. Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon has become an American fiction classic. There is no shortage of definitions for the detectives who populate these stories. Probably the most definitive is the one used by the Private Eye Writers of America in picking winners for its annual Shamus Awards.

They define a “private eye” as any mystery protagonist who is a professional investigator, but not a police officer or government agent.

I had no idea of creating a PI when I started writing about Greg McKenzie, a retired Air Force OSI agent, the protagonist of my first four mystery novels (plus a later fifth). In fact, I wasn’t even thinking series. The first book involved a hostage taking, and I wanted a character with investigative experience who would have all the tools he needed to compete with the bad guys and rescue his wife. While working on that story, I consulted with the Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Special Investigations at Arnold Air Force Base.

It wasn’t until the end of the second book that I realized Greg and his wife were perfectly suited to get into the private investigation business. The last three books have dealt with cases they took on with unexpected results. A few reviewers referred to the books as cozies, though I didn’t see them that way.

If you’ve never been in law enforcement, how do you learn the basics of writing about private investigators? It helps if you’ve been a newspaper reporter. They use some of the same techniques as detectives. Also you read a lot about PIs, both in fiction and fact. I have two books about private investigation written by two working pros I know personally.

I was surprised when I got a review of the third Greg McKenzie book that started out, “If you’re interested in seeing how a real private detective works try Chester Campbell’s Deadly Illusions.”

That was only topped by a review of the fourth book that began, "The Marathon Murders is a skillfully woven tale that shows detective fiction wannabes how it’s supposed to be done.”

Although I enjoyed penning the exploits of Greg and Jill McKenzie, I wanted to try my hand at a more gritty private eye story. So I conjured up Sidney Lanier (Sid) Chance, a Green Beret in Vietnam, a National Parks ranger for 19 years, and a small town police chief for another 10. He left the NPS after being shot and quit his police job over false accusations of bribery.

Sid is the protagonist in The Surest Poison and The Good, The Bad and The Murderous, the two books in the series. Apparently I succeeded in telling a more hard-boiled tale since one reviewer said I was channeling my love for the written word “into the kind of fiction writing that those with a penchant for Lawrence Block can enjoy.” If you don’t know Larry Block, he writes really hard-boiled stuff and is one of Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Masters.

So what’s the secret to writing believable private eyes? In my view it’s keeping your detective’s eyes and ears tuned to pick up any lead, whether it be a phone call, a scrap of paper found at a crime scene, a casual observation by a witness, and following it wherever the trail takes him. And you’d better obstruct the trail with plenty of boulders and booby traps.

The early PIs were strictly loners, but as the twentieth century wound down, it became popular to give private investigators sidekicks. Jasmine (Jaz) LeMieux fills the spot for Sid Chance, though she’s not like any sidekick I’ve encountered before. She’s rich, being majority owner and board chairman of a chain of truck stops, but followed a pretty weird path in getting there. After quitting college over a disagreement with her basketball coach, she served in the Air Force Security Police, was a professional boxer, and worked as a Metro Nashville policewoman.

Barbara Norville, in her book Writing the Modern Mystery, says “the primary attribute of the private eye is his unique sense of justice, and this is the theme of all private eye novels.” I agree, and it’s the raison d’etre for my PIs. As we learn about Sid Chance, “the possibility of taking a twisted situation and making things right was the lure that kept him in the business.”

Check out my books on the website HERE or on Amazon HERE.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Surest Poison's Jaz LeMieux Talks

The Surest Poison, first book in the Sid Chance PI series, involves Sid’s efforts to locate the man responsible for a toxic chemical dump behind a plant near a small town west of Nashville. I wrote this for another blog shortly after the book came out. I think it's still just as relevant now, particularly if you're new to the series. In The Surest Poison, the current owner of the toxic dump area faces the costly cleanup of the mess caused by a previous occupant years ago. Three seemingly unrelated murders occur as Sid is tailed and threatened. When his part-time associate, Jasmine LeMieux, offers her help, she is awakened by an explosion behind her mansion. A lot of readers tell me they like Jaz better than Sid. She's quite a character. I hope you enjoy the interview.

Chester: Would you state your full name and occupation?
Jaz: What is this? Are you trying to play detective?

Chester: Just answer the question, please.
Jaz: Oh, all right. I’ll play along. My name is Jasmine LeMieux, a.k.a. Jaz, and I’m chairman of the board for Welcome Home Stores, a chain of truck stops headquartered in Nashville. I’m also a newly-minted—licensed, that is—private investigator.

Chester: And a very attractive one at age forty-five.
Jaz: Thanks, I guess, but you didn’t have to go into that age business. A lady needs to keep a few secrets.

Chester: Sorry about that. I hear you’re working with another local PI named Sid Chance. Is that correct?
Jaz: I wouldn’t call it working, exactly. It’s more like a lark to me. It’s a chance to play cop.

Chester: Weren’t you a Metro Nashville policewoman at one point?
Jaz: Until my mother died and my father was nearly killed in a car wreck. I quit the force to help nurse him back to health.

Chester: Your career choices up to that point caused a bit of consternation with your family, didn’t they?
Jaz: You’re being kind. Actually, I was kicked out of the family. My mother was a snobbish Southern Belle. She went ballistic when I dropped out of college and joined the Air Force. I was young at the time and quite determined. I had been a star point guard on the basketball team. When they brought in a new coach who berated my style of play, I got mad and quit. In the Air Force I was assigned to the Security Police under a sergeant who was a former Golden Gloves champion. He worked out regularly with me in the gym. When I left the service, he offered to train me as a boxer. I went professional, and my mother erased my name from the family ledger.

Chester: Didn’t you become a lightweight champion?
Jaz: I did, but it didn’t pay enough to live on. That’s why I became a cop.

Chester: From the looks of this French Colonial mansion you live in, I’d say you weren’t hurting for money now.
Jaz: I’m doing okay. My dad came to Nashville as an ambitious young French Canadian. He built Welcome Home Stores into a lucrative business. When he regained his health after the accident, he asked me to come to work for him. I went back to school and got a computer science degree, plus an MBA. He left me controlling interest in the business when he died.

Chester: How do you find time to play cop, as you call it?
Jaz: I keep close tabs on the company, but I’m not involved in day-to-day operations.

Chester: Weren’t you responsible for getting Sid Chance in the PI business?
Jaz: I was looking for somebody to run an investigation for Welcome Home Stores, and a mutual friend told me about Sid. He had a wealth of experience in law enforcement but got shafted by small town politics. He’d run off to a cabin the woods and was playing hermit. I looked him up, talked him into coming back to take my company’s case. He did such a great job with it that I offered to help him get into the PI business.

Chester: Did you have anything to do with Sid’s taking on this toxic chemical pollution case?
Jaz: I recommended him to a lawyer who does work for my company.

Chester: It sounds like you think pretty highly of Mr. Sidney Chance. True?
Jaz: If you mean do I think he’s one very sharp detective, quite true. He’s also one gorgeous hunk of a man, a little rough around the edges, but honest as the day is long. He’s totally devoid of pretense, someone you can always count on to come through for you.

Chester: In addition to your helping with Sid’s case, he got pretty heavily involved with your problem at home, didn’t he?
Jaz: Yes, there’s a dear couple who lives with me. They’ve been family employees since I was a kid. When their grandson got into trouble, Sid came to the rescue.

Chester: Do I detect something a little more than a purely business relationship?
Jaz: We’ve become very close friends. And this part is off the record. I wouldn’t object to pushing the relationship to a new level, but I think Sid needs to find some inner peace before he’s ready to break out of his shell. He needs to come to terms with his past.

Chester: Didn’t you introduce him to some good law enforcement contacts?
Jaz: You refer to the Miss Demeanor and Five Felons Poker Club. We meet irregularly with a Metro homicide detective, a patrol sergeant, a retired newspaper police reporter, and a former Criminal Court Judge. They’re great friends, and Sid has found they can be quite helpful.

Chester: And what’s in store for Jasmine LeMieux as a private investigator?
Jaz: That depends on Sid. I’m only interested in working cases where he needs my help. I have resources he doesn’t possess, including computer savvy to dig out information not easily accessible.

Chester: I’m sure he’ll find ample opportunity to use your services in the future. Thanks for talking with us, Miss LeMieux. I wish you much success.
Jaz: Hey, speaking of which, you won’t mind if I succeeded in selling a few books, would you?

I guess I could use her help as well as anybody else's. Anyway, that's all for now.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Using Personal Experience in Plot Locations

Fiction is bound to be somewhat biographical. Any of the author's experiences and beliefs are subject to ending up in the story. One area particularly likely to figure in the mix is location. Places familiar to the author will probably find their way into his or her stories. It's certainly true for me.

My Greg McKenzie and Sid Chance mysteries are mostly set around the Nashville area, which is where I have lived for most of my 90 years. But the first book, Secret of the Scroll, is set about half in Nashville and half in Jordan and Israel. Describing the Middle East part was no problem as I had made a similar trek through the area on a Holy Land tour. To back up my recollections, I had three hours of videotape I had shot along the way.



  The second McKenzie mystery, Designed to Kill, takes place in large part around Pensacola, Florida. I had no trouble with descriptions there since my wife and I had spent two weeks in spring and fall for the past few years at my brother's condo (photo at right) on the stretch of sand called Perdido Key, just southwest of Pensacola. I gave Greg and Jill McKenzie a similar condo for their vacation getaway.

When it came to writing the Post Cold War Political Thriller Trilogy, my travels about the world really came into play. The first book, Beware the Jabberwock, opened in Vienna, Austria, a city I had visited on one of my European jaunts. One important locale in the story is Washington, D.C. I made annual trips there during my years as an association executive, visiting House and Senate office buildings, plus other areas in the District. Another key spot is the Great Smoky Mountains, where the major character lived when he was recruited into a clandestine role. I have driven and roamed about most parts of the Smokies. Important to the story is a small island I invented off the Gulf Coast near Apalachicola, Florida, another area I have visited.

Other foreign sites in the story where I have spent time are Tel Aviv, Israel, Hong Kong, Acapulco, Mexico and Toronto. U.S. cities include New Orleans, San Francisco and Atlanta, places I have visited multiple times. Others I have only passed through include Baltimore, the I-75 corridor through Detroit and Niagara Falls. One place I only used research to depict is the island of Cyprus.


In book two, The Poksu Conspiracy, a major portion of the story takes place in South Korea. I was stationed in Seoul during the Korean War and visited modern Seoul during a Far East tour in 1987 with my late wife, Alma, our son Mark and his Korean wife I Pun. But when personal experience doesn't stretch far enough, I have to depend on research.To cover cities such as Berlin, Budapest and Pyongyang, North Korea, I turned to tourist guidebooks and memoirs by people who've lived there.

The last book of the trilogy is Overture to Disaster. I had followed Russia and its satellites closely during the Cold War, so I had no problem finding sources for what I needed about Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. I had visited several parts of Mexico, including Mexico City, which provided a lot of help with the Mexican angle. I depended on research for the Peru part but had visited Zurich, one of the other cities involved in the story.

After 90 years of roaming around the U.S., plus many other areas of the world, I've found personal experience a handy entree to the task of locating physical action. There are still lots of places I'd like to visit, but, unfortunately, my wife, Sarah, isn't up to the journey, and we've always worked as a team.

Friday, March 25, 2016

New Look at an Old Blog...or Is It?

Since I haven't been accomplishing much in the way of writing a new book, I decided to revive this old blog. I say "old"  because its debut came with the dawning of 2009. My first effort appeared here on January 1 of that year. Reading it now, the context could fit the current scene. So let's take a ride down Memory Lane:



It has been a quiet New Year's Day around here. Everybody but me slept till noon. I've been banging around on the computer most of the day, cleaning up this and that. Finally got around to setting up my new blog. Welcome aboard.

So why should you read mine in addition to the 99 million others out there? Will I have anything worthwhile to expound upon? There's the mystery. You'll need to check in now and then to find out.


In a world where the economy is sliding down a greased pole, where people like me have a granddaughter-in-law in Iraq and a grandson in Afghanistan, hopefully not getting shot at today, where legislators seem more adept at arguing than accomplishing, where food on the table is a luxury in many places, is this a a great time to be alive or not? You bet it is.


This is my eighty-third winter, and I've seen a lot of crazy goings-on in this topsy-turvy world. I've managed to survive it all by being an incurable optimist. Things are going to get better. You can count on it. And I plan to take part in the good times ahead. That's why I like mystery writing. The good guys may take a beating along the way, but they're gonna win in the end.


I hope you'll come along for the ride.