Saturday, November 9, 2019

Year of an Indie Writer: Week 45

Scott D. Parker

One thing dominated my non-day job time: NaNoWriMo.

Like I mentioned last week, I'm getting off my novel-writing snide by participating in NaNoWriMo 2019. But for every creative type, when you start doing your art again, you are rusty.

While I'm ahead of the overall pace for the 50,000-word month, not every day this week was easy. I bested the 1,667 daily average every day but one, but some days it was like pulling teeth.

But if there's one thing I've learned over my years of crafting stories, it's this: Trust the Process.

I have a day job and a family so my writing times are time-limited. An hour or so in the morning before work and around 55 minutes at lunch after a daily chat with my wife. But the other twenty-two hours of the day, story-wise, is time for the subconscious to mull over ideas and next scenes. Sometimes your subconscious hasn't figured out where to go next.

Then there are the days in which it does. Then, you just hold on because your fingers fly over the keyboard and you curse the end of writing time. It was a breakthrough, at least for the near term.

That's what happened yesterday. 

Later on last night, when I read my new words to the wife, she guessed on where the story was going. "No, that's not what I wrote...but dang it I wish I had." Still, I'm going with what my subconscious came up with. We'll see how much fun it'll be.

Trust the process. Always.

Friday, November 8, 2019

The Stone Song on audio

We've had the opportunity to listen to the fast-paced, pretty exciting story of a brother and sister who get caught up in one of those towns that gets locked down by the military because something secret and spooky is going on.

Think Stranger Things meets that Stephen King show about the domed town.

The stakes keep increasing at just about the right pace as the story moves on. If you're fan of the genre, this is one you'll probably want to give a go.

If you've got a holiday drive coming up in the next couple months, this would make a pretty good companion as the story is active, the pace is quick, and the bad guys are really bad.

As this is part of a blog tour for the book, check out what Karen said yesterday here.


Audible, the world’s leading provider of spoken-word entertainment, has secured worldwide English language audio rights to Tom Bale’s audio-exclusive new title The Stone Song, narrated by Raza Jaffrey (Homeland, Code Black).

Audible will produce and record The Stone Song in its Grammy and Audie award-winning London studios. It will be released exclusively in audio on 7 November 2019. It is now available to pre-order on Audible here.

The Stone Song is a dystopian sci-fi thriller set in a small Sussex village, by best-selling author Tom Bale (See How They Run, All Fall Down, One Dark Night). With four teenagers pitted against deadly opposition, this is a story of supernatural menace that will appeal to fans of Stephen King and Stranger Things

On a sweltering summer’s night, teenage siblings Jack and Lily witness a helicopter crash on the main road between Brighton and London. The next morning they wake to find their village has been sealed off from the entire world. A terrorist cell is holed up in Stenhurst – or at least that’s the official story, put out by sinister government agent Wynter and his vicious sidekick, Major Kellett.

But later that day, Lily and Jack stumble on the truth: the authorities are hunting for a mysterious creature, labelled CatX, who escaped during the crash. Together with their friends, Erin and Oliver, Lily and Jack take it upon themselves to defy the lockdown and protect the creature, no matter what the risks. 

The stakes are raised still further when a team of American agents arrive with their own unique technologies. Nobody who sees the CatX must be allowed to survive, and yet it soon becomes clear that there is a much bigger secret that threatens the entire world. 

The Stone Song features an exclusive interview with narrator Raza Jaffrey at the end of the audiobook, in which he talks about the narration experience, his career as an actor and the things (and people) he loves to listen to.

The Stone Song joins a host of best-in-class sci-fi Audible Originals released in recent months. Highlights include The X-Files starring Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, H.G. Wells: The Science Fiction Collection starring David Tennant and Hugh Bonneville amongst others, and Jeff Wayne's The War of The Worlds: The Musical Drama, starring Michael Sheen, Taron Egerton and Theo James.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Vacation Reading / Everything Happens

I’m late posting today. 
Sorry - I’ve been on a cruise round the Meditteranean which got delayed by four days because of storms in the Bay of Biscay.
On the plus side: Four more days Free. On the negative side: I hadn’t expected to be out of the country and out of signal range til so late today and thus my tardiness is - I hope - explained.
While I’ve been away I’ve read and loved a bunch of books but none more so than the new Jo Perry (which is handily paired up in a two-fer with my own new one).
It would, I feel, be the height of Ego to review my half of the pairing, so I thought I’d share what it was that I loved so much about Jo’s book Everything Happens:

Jo Perry is well known and loved, round these parts, for her series of “Dead is…” books featuring Charlie & Rose. Those books – which I have described as being what would happen if Samuel Beckett wrote a crime series, as well as being “Like ‘The Wire’ meets ‘The Tibetan book of the dead” – are almost impossible to classify: They are about a dead man and his only companion – an (also dead) red setter. They feature chapter headings that are quotes about or ruminations on death. And they are almost poetic in how they use the form of a crime novel to consider what makes us human, why cruelty exists, and what it actually means to be alive.
If the Charlie & Rose novels are literary mandalas, Everything Happens, by contrast, is like walking into a Las Vegas megaclub at three in the morning when everything is noise and light and fluorescence and when, ahem, EverythingHappens.
It’s got robbery with violence, car chases, car crashes, carjacking, kidnapping, petty larceny, double crossing, triple crossing, death, vengeance and wedding dresses. If you’re looking for something considered about life and death, pop over to the Charlie & Rose stories. If you want an absolute roller coaster ride of Noir loveliness with a sense of mayhem just barely held in check, this is the book for you.
Everything Happens is a genuine, instantly recognisable Noir. It’s about desperate people doing increasingly desperate things and one knows almost from the first page as Perry’s heroine Jennifer pushes a clapped out old Subaru across the desert to Las Vegas, that she is heading to a date with destiny. It feels dirty and cinematic and instantly tense, and as the story unfolds and we discover the focus of her journey we’re brought into a story that asks what happens to people when the world has emptied them out. What do we become when we have nothing left to lose?
I loved this novella (but you may already have guessed that). It has some genuine darkness and a heroine who’s both flawed and deserving of so much more than the world has given her. There’s also a self-centred asshole and his equally self-serving girlfriend co-conspirator, a wonderfully deranged and mismatched weed shop owner and store manager who act as the most wonderfully Nuts Nemesis to the story. There’s a kidnapper who’s both terrifying and touching, and – as in the best of Noir – there’s a sense that this is not, and was never meant to be – a redemption story. 
Most of the people in here are broken at the start and broken at the end. And the joy is not in watching their redemption or their developing self awareness (though there is some of that in one or two points) but in watching, open mouthed, as the story unfolds, wondering who’ll be left alive, and trying to work out why you care so deeply about such fucked up people.
And that’s the genius of Perry, ably demonstrated in this short but brilliant book: There are almost no easily likeable characters, but their humanity, their reality, makes you care about them. You want them – even as you know they wouldn’t listen to your advice if they were with you – to succeed.
Well, you want that for some of them.
The book is truly cinematic (Get Netflix on the line. Because between the damaged characters, the locations, the action sequences, the hyperreality and the whip smart dialogue, this is basically the ultimate Pulp movie in waiting), and as the nights draw in and the weather, for some of us, gets darker and colder I can’t think of a better way to pass an evening than in the company of Jo Perry and the wonderfully dark, deranged and delightful Everything Happens.

Oh, and lastly, as I said above, it’s releasedin a double bill with my own Danny Bird Novella “Death of a Sinner.”

Wednesday, November 6, 2019


This past weekend I,along with about 1800 other people, attended the World's biggest mystery and crime convention, Bouchercon, in Dallas Tx. Bouchercon as you know is named Anthony Boucher , esteemed mystery writer, editor, critic and if his photos are any indication a fan of bow-ties. Instead of a long winding and winsome epistle about the weekend I thought I'd just point out the top ten things that I enjoyed at the conference and one thing that pissed me the hell off but thankfully is happening less and less....
So here ....we.....go

1. Meeting my Facebook friends.
Events like Bouchercon are great for extroverted introverts like me who are not independently wealthy. I have dozens of friends on social media that I would like nothing more than  to travel the country meeting like some platonic Lone Ranger but alas the price of gas and my dodgy vehicle precludes such activities. Therefore I save my funds and go to cons to meet people heretofore have only contacted me through a touch screen. I can't list everyone I met in the flesh for the first time but a few that stand out are ....
 Chad Williamson, author of the Henry Malone series and Shamus nominee(don't worry we'll get back to the Shamus awards). Chad and I met in the bar...a lot. I'm happy to report he is just as kind and interesting with a odd sense of humor as I hoped he would be..
   Hector Acosta...I was on the Noir at the Bar bill with Hector and his story was one of my favorites. Hector is funny, gracious and definitely the best practitioner of pro wrestling noir.
    John Vercher....John is about to be literary thermite. He is going ot blow UP! He is as sharp and insightful as his debut novel 3/5. He can also kick my ass so I have nothing but good things to say bout him...
   Rachel Howzell of the best thriller writers in the game today and also a lovely person who didn't mind me intruding on her lunch. They All Fall Down is her latest and I think her greatest. 
2. The Book Depository Museum. The hotel of Bouchercon was held was within in walking distance of the sight of the greatest crime of modern times. As a writer I would never have forgiven myself if I had gone to expirence the place where Camelot came to an end. I'm not going to offer my thoughts on any conspiracy theories but I will say.....nothing is impossible.
   3. Joe R.Landsdale... If you were at Noir at the Bar Dallas you witnessed me going complete fanboy over Joe R. Landsdale. One of the most versatile and prolific writers around Joe has been one of my literary heroes for a long long time. I'm happy to report that he was as cool as the other side of the pillow and as sharp as a tack. I also got to see him at several panels and he is absolutely brilliant and does not suffer fools gladly...
4. The Bar..... as is usually the case with a conference or convention socializing was about fifty percent of the event. Every evening I found myself in the Bar talking , laughing and sharing with all the writers I knew and the ones I had met for the first time. One thing I really like about this bar is that it had a huge lounge area with sofas and chairs away from the main part of the bar. This was great for folks who just wanted to talk and not have to compete with us tipsy scribes 
  5. The Best Novel Panel....this was probably  the panel I enjoyed the most. I was personal friends with some of the nominees and I was a great admirer of the other people on the panel. It was an incredibly informative and moving event where I walked away thinking about what I wanted out of my career and how I could be a better writer. 
6. The Anthony Awards. So my story THE GRASS BENEATH MY FEET  was nominated for best short story. I mean this from the bottom of my heart. It was a pleasure to be nominated along with Art Taylor, Holly West, Greg Herren and Barb Goffman. I come from a poor town and a family that struggled with poverty. My mom was disabled two weeks after I was born and her and my father separated not long after. Then our trailer burned down. If our dog had run away we could have written a sad country song. I had to drop out of college to help take care of my mom. I've worked hard labor intensive jobs most of my life and here I was nominated along side some of the best writers in the whole world. That was enough for me....I had no expectations of winning. 
But...I did. And I still can't believe it.

  Now for the awkward stuff.
   For the last few years marginalized writers have made great strides in the crime writing community. We have worked hard to demand a seat at the table and share our skills with folks who in many instances couldn't care less about what we had to say. There were two instances over the weekend where we were reminded how far we still have to go.  
   At the Shamus awards Max Allan Collins made what he said was a joke that was frankly in bad taste. 
  At a workshop for SiNC Donald Maass used an insensitive writing prompt for his workshop that was insulting to Asian Canadians. 
  In both cases each man has offered an apology. Donald's seems heartfelt and genuine if somewhat bizarre(reference to topiary gardens...don't ask). Max's seems begrudgingly offered but ten years ago no apology would have been forthcoming and the individuals who spoke up might have blackballed. 
  There is progress. Albeit slow and painful, it's happening. At this years Bouchercon  People of color , women, members of the LGTBQ community were the recipients of nominations and awards. Not because of some literary affirmative action but because they are phenomenal authors. As it should be.  And in the end that is going to make the crime writing community stronger and more fascinating. When everyone has a voice the song is just that much sweeter. 
Or to quote the Goonies...

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

¡Pa'Que Tu Lo Sepas!: Stories to Benefit the People of Puerto Rico

Scott's note: Angel Colon revisits today to talk about a new collection he has edited.  It's called ¡Pa'Que Tu Lo Sepas!, and it's a collection of stories by Latinx writers. Some of them you may have heard of, some of them you may not have heard of, but it's got an impressive list of contributors, including Chantel Acevedo, Hector Acosta, David Bowles, Hector Duarte Jr., Carmen Jaramillo, Jessica Laine, Richie Narvaez, Christopher Novas, Cina Pelayo, Alex Segura, and Désirée Zamorano. And, no small thing, net proceeds from sales of the collection will benefit The Hispanic Federation: UNIDOS Disaster Relief & Recovery Program to Support Puerto Rico, a program working to help those still affected by Hurricane Maria.

It's a book well worth picking up.

And now, here's Angel:

One of the goals of ¡Pa'Que Tu Lo Sepas! (out NOW) was to raise money for Puerto Rico. The other goal: to expose readers to Latinx writers they’re missing out on. 

When the fine folks at Do Some Damage offered me another chance to get the word out, I thought it might be fun to do something in that spirit. Instead of a rant or craft piece, I decided to ask my contributors to shoot me a few Latinx writers they consider to be their very favorites. The goal is to put some names you might not know about out there. Take a read and click on all the fancy links to discover some new and exciting writing.

Obviously, I’ll start since my opinion matters least.

Angel Luis Colon:

I wasn’t going to lose the chance to shout out two of my personal favorites, Julia de Burgos and a recent discovery, Ernesto Quinonez. de Burgos scratches that itch of mine that wants to feel connected to Puerto Rican art. Her poetry is important and powerful. Quinonez, though, was a revelation. A narrative voice that finally sounded like home. That’s a hell of a feeling.

Hector Duarte Jr.:

Ena Lucia Portela out of Cuba. . . because CIEN BOTELLAS EN UNA PARED is a masterpiece of POV and unreliable narration.

Desiree Zamorano:

Dagoberto Gilb.  When I discovered his essay collection, Gritos, he salvaged my writing heart. You mean, a Mexican American could get published in The New Yorker?
To this day, I believe he remains one of the handful
published there.  Gustavo Arellano is the only other Mexican American I can think of.

Carmen Jaramillo:

Every single time I write a short story, I think of Hernando Tellez.  He gives tremendous weight to particular tangible details and demonstrates the insidious, crushing effects of violence and fear over ordinary people.

Alex Segura:

This is tough, but I'll have to go with Leonado Padura - his Mario Conde PI series showed me that you could pay homage to the greats, like Chandler and so on, with a strong Latinx voice and sense of place. Mario Conde is to Havana what my Pete Fernandez is to Miami, and I learned a lot from those books.

Richie Narvaez:

So many to choose from -- so I'll say Jesus Colon because too many people forget about him. His A Puerto Rican in New York, full of concise, everyday anecdotes, showed me the way, showed me that what I wanted to do wasn't impossible.

Cina Pelayo:

The work of Carmen Maria Machado is inspiring. When I read Her Body and Other Parties, I was in awe of the beauty with which she can write about such terrible things.

Jessica Laine:

I love Marta Acosta, a Latinx author from San Francisco who writes all kinds of genres including a paranormal romance series called Casa Dracula. Her Latinx heritage infuses her writing and brings her characters and their world to life.

I’m also reading PR writer Anna Davila Cardinal YA horror novel, Five Midnights, which features el Cuco. It’s excellent.

Angel Luis Colon:

See anything that interests you? Go buy it. Diversity will only come when publishers are told with cash that it’s wanted. Bonus: I promise you’ll read some wonderful work.

You can buy ¡Pa'Que Tu Lo Sepas! here.

Monday, November 4, 2019


So it's Day Four of NaNoWriMo and you can check in here:

And you can add your project here:

And you can find pals who are also doing this here:

And they have shirts:

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Bouchercon Wrap Up

Best Short Story Anthony Award nominees Barb Goffman (blue shirt) SA Cosby, Art Taylor, and Holly West. 

By Claire Booth
DALLAS—Bouchercon is almost over. Four days of constant talking and no sleep. It’s fabulous. 
One of the most fun—and most beneficial—things I got to do was something called “author speed dating.” It’s where two authors get two minutes each to talk about their books to eight readers. Then they hop up from the table they’re sitting at and move on to the next one. Nineteen times. My partner Hallie Ephron and I did our spiels for 152 readers. Readers who were willing to get up at 7 a.m. to see a bunch of authors. How great is that? 
It’s the third time I’ve done this at various conferences, and every time has been great. I do walk away with no voice left, but so grateful for the opportunity to talk to so many avid, passionate readers. 
Now I’m ready to fly back to Sacramento, exhausted and happy. Here are a few shots from my week. 

Speed dating—so many people!
Me with librarian and book reviewer Lesa Holstine. 
DSD: Me, SA Cosby, and Holly West after their Anthony Award nominee panel.