Saturday Miscellany – 7/21/17

I knew I was being overly ambitious when I packed 3 books for my 2 days away, but I was unprepared for how busy the waiting areas we were in were. I got a little over 100 pages of reading done. Pitiful number, really. I know I had more important things going on, but I still expected a little more.

Anyway, I was away from the Internet for a few days, and so I didn’t find that many odds ‘n ends over the week about books and reading, but I enjoyed these:

    A Book-ish Related Podcast Episode you might want to give a listen:

  • Myke Cole Interview — on The Author Stories Podcast. I’ve heard Cole interviewed a couple of times before, but Garner got a bit more out of him than I’d heard before.

    This Week’s New Releases I’m Excited About and/or You’ll Probably See Here Soon:

  • Collared by David Rosenfelt — Andy Carpenter defends a man during a retrial — my post about it is here
  • The Fallen by Ace Atkins — Quinn Colson chases some bank robbers and we get a new antagonist. I had a little to say about it.
  • The Late Show by Michael Connelly — I’m about 2/3 done with this and am really impressed with Connelly’s new detective.
  • Graveyard Shift by Michael F. Haspil — a UF Police Procedural, some peanutbutter in my chocolate. Looks tasty.
  • Minecraft: The Island by Max Brooks — okay, I’m not that interested, but I’ve got a kid who will be.

Lastly, I’d like to say hi and welcome to danielwalldammit for following the blog this week.

A Few Quick Questions With…Russ Colchamiro

This is the longest, and strangest, “Book Tour” I’ve done — it’s actually three separate events, but it’s all been promoting the book, Love, Murder & Mayhem. There was the book blurb and review for the original tour stop, then a Book Blitz post, and now we get to ask a the editor, Russ Colchamiro a few questions. Sure, it’s been irregular, but I’ve enjoyed it. If for no other reason, than I get to keep talking about this really fun anthology.

Anyway, on with the questions…

I really enjoyed Love, Murder & Mayhem, best anthology I’ve read in quite a while. What was the genesis for this project — particularly the theme. How did you recruit this collection of contributors?
Thanks! Glad you had so much fun with it. I appreciate that.

While writing Genius de Milo, the second book in my Finders Keepers scifi backpacking comedy series, I introduced—briefly—the character of Angela Hardwicke. Though her portion takes place in the fictional setting of Eternity, she’s a private eye in that classic Sam Spade tradition. I bumped up her role considerably for the third and final book, Astropalooza, and knew that I wanted to spend a lot more time with her, with plans to write a spin-off series, which I’m actually working on now. But before I jumped into a full book, I wanted to write a short story with Hardwicke in the lead, to get a better sense of who she was, her rhythms, and the kinds of stories I wanted to tell.

So I started the Love, Murder & Mayhem anthology through my publishing group—Crazy 8 Press. Including the other six core Crazy 8 members, I reached out to other writer friends to contribute, with every story containing at least one act of love or romance, at least one murder, and lots of mayhem. I initially thought I’d get nothing but private stories—I did a get a few—but the anthology contains superhero and supervillain stories, off-world and space cruiser stories, as well as A.I., private eyes, sleep surrogates, time travel, an aliens/monsters mash-up and … one DuckBob!

My story is “The Case of My Old New Life and the One I Never Knew,” where Hardwicke investigates a case of arson in a rock n club she visited the night before to see her favorite band. It was a lot of fun to write.

If Hardwicke ever gets herself a novel, I’ll be first in line to read it! That’s great to hear.

I know there’s a bunch of information about Finders Keepers on your website to lure in readers — and it’s worked for me, I should add. But other than that, how would you best entice someone to give the series a shot?

Finders Keepers is one of those books that readers either seem to love or want nothing to do with it! LOL! But if you like to have fun … it’s loosely based on a series of backpacking trips I took through Europe and New Zealand and is centered on a quest for a jar that contains the Universe’s DNA. If you like Douglas Adams, Christopher Moore, Third Rock from the Sun, Harold & Kumar go to White Castle, Groundhog Day, Hot Tub Time Machine, and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, it might be up your alley.

You can also check out this book trailer – http://russcolchamiro.com/books/finders-keepers/animated-trailer/

What is it about the Science Fiction that brings you back — or for that matter, what brought you to it in the first place? Is there a genre you particularly enjoy, but don’t think you could write?
Science fiction allows me to dream as big as I want. Nothing is off limits. Once you open up your worlds like that, your stories can go in directions that other genres simply can’t sustain. And it’s fun! As for other genres, I like a good political thriller now and then, but I’m not the guy to write one. I’ll definitely be writing more crime fiction, but I don’t have the bandwidth—or the desire—to get into geopolitical conspiracies. I’ll let other talented writers handle those!
What’s the one (or two) book/movie/show in the last 5 years that made you say, “I wish I’d written that.”?
Ready Player One is a great book which I loved. I never could have written it—there’s so much detail in there with all of that great 80s nerd pop culture—but I’d be more than happy had it been mine! Breaking Bad for TV. Great show and the kind of writing and character arcs that are more my style. I’m leaning more in that direction anyway these days.
I’ve often heard that writers (or artists in general) will forget hundreds of positive reviews but always remember the negative — what’s the worst thing that someone’s said about one of your books, and has it altered your approach to future books?
LOL! I say up front that Finders Keepers is a bit raunchy (Genius de Milo and Astropalooza much less so), but I warn readers up front so that they know what they’re getting. In the middle of all the backpacking and cosmic lunacy, the characters—good natured but bumbling—are drinking beer, smoking some weed, having sex, and dropping some F bombs here and there. And yet I’ll still get a reader now and then who will say something like “The author says it’s a raunchy book, which I hate, but the premise sounded so cool that I read it anyway. I hated it! There’s sex and language and drinking and drugs and college humor. Why did he ruin it?”

Ugh. It’s like someone saying they hate horror, gore, and violence, watching The Chainsaw Massacre despite knowing the plot, and then complaining about the horror, gore, and violence! LOL! Eh. But what can you do? I don’t worry too much about it.

Between this series, Love, Murder & Mayhem, the various anthologies I’ve contributed to, and my space adventure Crossline, there’s plenty of options for readers to choose from. ☺

I want to thank Russ Colchamiro for taking time for this.

I was asked to add the promotional info about the book and editor to this, and sure, it’s been here already, but, hey — if this helps the book get some more eyeballs, why not?

About the Book:

Love science fiction stories that all include elements of Love, Murder & Mayhem?

Then welcome to the latest anthology from Crazy 8 Press! This amazing collection from 15 all-star authors will delight you with superheros and supervillains. AIs, off-worlders, and space cruisers. We’ve also got private eyes, sleep surrogates, time travelers, aliens and monsters—and one DuckBob!

With tales ranging from wild and wacky to dark and gritty to heartbreaking and fun, take the deadly leap with authors Meriah Crawford, Paige Daniels, Peter David, Mary Fan, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman Paul Kupperberg, Karissa Laurel, Kelly Meding, Aaron Rosenberg, Hildy Silverman, Lois Spangler, Patrick Thomas, and editor Russ Colchamiro.

You’ll never look at Love, Murder & Mayhem the same way again—and that’s just the way we like it.

About the Editor:

Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure, Crossline, the hilarious sci-fi backpacking comedy series, Stephen OramFinders Keepers, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, and is editor of the new anthology, Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, and Altered States of the Union, and TV Gods 2. He is now at work on a top-secret project, and a Finders Keepers spin-off.

As a matter of full disclosure, readers should not be surprised if Russ spontaneously teleports in a blast of white light followed by screaming fluorescent color and the feeling of being sucked through a tornado. It’s just how he gets around — windier than the bus, for sure, but much quicker.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Open Apology to Susan Barton and Robert Germaux

Public screw up, public apology.

I’ve been out of town for a couple of days (roughly 5 pm Tuesday to 11:40pm Thursday) for some medical screening and evaluations for one of my kids (long story, not that relevant, but if you’re super curious, feel free to check out The Backup Kidney blog). To help keep things alive during that time, I signed up for a couple of Book Tours — posts that are pretty much prepared by someone else, and can be scheduled well ahead of time.

One of those was for the entertaining read, One by One by Robert Germaux, as put together by Susan Barton. Those posts went up Thursday, technically yesterday now. Monday while packing, I finished putting those together, got them scheduled to post and checked another item off my pre-trip To Do list, and thought no more about them.

They looked fine, everything worked in Preview mode.

Then this morning, somewhere between a chest X-Ray and an echocardiogram (I’m not exactly sure when), I got an email from Ms. Barton that things weren’t looking right — no images were showing up — and could I please fix that. Well, no, I was on a spotty and slow connection with only my phone — I really couldn’t even get a reply composed given all that was going on. I was 400+ miles and 13-14 hours away from being able to sit down and fix things.

I don’t know what happened, again, it all looked good Monday night. I didn’t bother to troubleshoot — I just uploaded the files with different names and changed the coding on the posts. I believe things are displaying correctly now. I sure hope so. If not, I’ll try again as soon as I get home from work tomorrow — and then, I don’t know, try self-immolation.

I’ve given the explanation, now the apology — I’m very sorry, Ms. Barton and Mr. Germaux. I said I’d do something and I didn’t deliver. The “irresponsible” in the blog title is supposed to mean that I read whatever, with only a regard for what catches my eye, not in an effort to better myself or be literary or live up to whatever standard — it’s not supposed to be an ethic.

One by One by Robert Germaux

And so we bring this Book Tour stop to the point where the material wasn’t pre-made, here are my thoughts on the novel. Short version: I enjoyed it.

One by OneOne by One

by Robert Germaux
Series: A Daniel Hays Mystery, Book 2

Kindle Edition, 342 pg.
2017

Read: July 12 – 13, 2017


Daniel Hays and his Special Assignment Squad — a Major Crimes squad set up to help smaller cities in the county around Pittsburgh — haven’t had a lot to do since being formed. That changes when the chief him Hampton Township has a strange homicide show up. He doesn’t need the help necessarily, but is concerned that the strangeness of the murder indicates that there could be something “big” coming. Another few homicides (at least) with the same strange element.

There’s a note left on the corpse, it reads “Blue is Better” and has a big, red check mark underneath. Daniel and his partner agree, they probably don’t need to be involved, but should be familiar with the investigation, just in case.

Good thing, too — because one week later in a very different part of the county, here’s another murder. With another note. Now things are getting serious and the SAS has to jump into action.

There’s no connection between the victims that they can find, no clues, no anything for them to go on. Just the notes, and repeated homicides on Fridays.

From there, we get an interesting twist or two there, some wrong turns, until after a lucky stroke, all the pieces fall together.

The characters are nice to spend time with, professionals who get along and work for the common good. They could possibly be a little more interesting if they were a little less professional, if there were a glitch or two in the teamwork. One by One falls into something like a “blue-sky” drama on TV — like NCIS, Burn Notice or White Collar, not the grittier Homicide, The Wire, or Bosch. This is not a dig at One by One to compare it to those shows — people love them, I’ve watched every episode of NCIS and enjoyed over 87% of them. But readers should go into this with eyes open — just because it’s a detective squad working multiple homicides, don’t go in expecting Michael Connelly, Owen Laukkanen, or Ian Rankin — expect Chris Grabenstein, David Rosenfelt, Aaron J. Elkins (check my archives, you’ll see that I’ve really enjoyed all those authors — again, this isn’t a knock, this is me describing where this belongs on a spectrum).

That said, Germaux could’ve given us a little more sense of urgency, had the characters seem less casual in their approach to this work. They did a lot of run of the mill, interviews with people that didn’t get them anywhere — even just showing more of that, would’ve been something. Maybe all of the smaller departments weren’t as cooperative with the task force. It wouldn’t have to be much, the book could’ve used a little something to intensify the drama. This was a good read, a light and enjoyable mystery; it’s thiiis close to me saying it’s a must read, but instead, I’ll leave it as a good read. You will enjoy it.This is a quick, easy story with a nice puzzle and some charming characters. I planned on reading the previous novel in the series, Small Talk, I just hadn’t got around to it — I’m going to work a little harder on that now.

If nothing else, read it for the recommendation on your new favorite version of “Over the Rainbow.” Wow.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my participation in the Book Tour.

—–

3.5 Stars

Robert Germaux Author Interview

Please tell us about One by One

 

This is a very frustrating case for Daniel and his squad. There are multiple victims who appear to have almost nothing in common, and although the killer leaves a “clue” at each crime scene, those clues likewise appear to be completely disconnected from each other. It’s only through hard work and determination that Daniel and his colleagues eventually realize that they need to change their focus in order to catch the killer.

 

Since One by One is your follow-up novel to Small Talk, what new character developments can readers expect from main character Daniel Hayes and his team?

 

We learn more about Daniel’s previous life as a professional athlete, and we meet a journalist who covered Daniel in that life, a man whose skills Daniel calls upon to assist the police in their hunt for the killer. In addition, we follow Daniel’s developing relationship with bookstore owner Lauren Cavanaugh.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed the dual POV in Small Talk. I loved how you got inside the killer’s head. Can readers expect something similar in One by One?

 

In Small Talk, Daniel and his squad had an idea who their killer was fairly early on in the case. The problem they faced was proving their suspect was actually the killer. Thus, a major part of the plotline in that book involved the way Daniel and the killer interacted with each other, which is why I used the killer’s POV occasionally. In One by One, though, the squad has no idea who their killer is until near the end of the story, so the emphasis is on the hunt for that person as opposed to any interactions the killer has with Daniel.

 

Where do your story ideas come from?

 

Everywhere! It doesn’t take much to ignite a spark in my fertile imagination. Sometimes I have to do a lot of research, as was the case with both Small Talk and One by One, because to the best of my knowledge, my social circle has never included any serial killers. But in Leaving the LAW, a Jeremy Barnes novel I’ll be releasing in the future, I relied heavily on my experiences teaching in an inner-city Pittsburgh high school that the police called Gang Central.

 

What do you think makes a good suspenseful mystery?

 

The answer, in part, lies in your question. Suspense. I like to read books that keep me guessing. Along with that, I think readers have to be involved with the characters in a novel, to care about what happens to those characters, even the bad ones. I want the good guys to win and the bad guys to lose.

 

 

ABOUT ROBERT GERMAUX

 

Both my parents were readers. I’m talking stacks-of-books-on-their-nightstands readers. So it’s no surprise that an early age, I, too, became an avid reader. Everything from sports books (especially baseball) to Nancy Drew to the Hardy Boys to almost anything about distant and exotic places. And although I’ve always enjoyed putting words on paper, the writer in me didn’t fully emerge until I retired after three decades of teaching high school English. I quickly wrote two books aimed at middle school readers, at which point my wife urged me to try a novel for adults. As is usually the case, Cynthia’s idea was a good one. Over the next few years, I wrote several books about Pittsburgh private eye Jeremy Barnes, including “Hard Court.” Along the way, I took a brief hiatus from the detective genre to write “The Backup Husband,” the plot line of which came to me one day when I was playing the What-if game. On that particular day, the question that occurred to me was, What if a woman suddenly realized she might be in love with two wonderful men? After “The Backup Husband,” I wrote “Small Talk,” my first novel about Pittsburgh police detective Daniel Hayes. I then switched gears again with “Grammar Sex (and other stuff),” a book of humorous essays. Now I’m back with “One by One,” the second Daniel Hayes mystery, which will be released on June 1st. You can find all of my books on my Amazon Author Page.

In our spare time, Cynthia and I enjoy reading (of course), seeing Broadway plays and musicals, watching reruns of our favorite TV shows, such as “Sports Night” and “The Gilmore Girls,” and traveling to some of those distant and exotic places I used to read about as a child. So far, we’ve been fortunate enough to walk in the sands of Waikiki, swim in the warm waters of the South Pacific and enjoy a romantic dinner in Paris.

I love interacting with my readers and getting their input on my stories and characters. Please feel free to contact me on my website.

 

One by One by Robert Germaux Book Excerpt

Ellen Tishler was killed in her home in Hampton Township, about twelve miles north of Pittsburgh, but still within Allegheny County. My team works out of Zone 3 in the city, so in the normal course of events, we wouldn’t have had anything to do with the case. We were called in because the chief of police in Hampton thought it might be something SAS should be handling.

The chief’s name was Benjamin Roberts. He was a shade under six feet, with dark hair cut very short and the beginnings of a little potbelly, but still in good shape for a guy chasing sixty. His uniform was neat and clean, his tie perfectly knotted, his shoes spit-shined. Ex-military, I was guessing. Roberts had a reputation for being old school all the way. He even conducted inspections at the start of most shifts. He also had a reputation as one of the sharpest cops in the county.

It was three o’clock on a sunny September afternoon when Henry and I arrived at the two-story brick colonial on Edgerton Drive in the upper-middle class neighborhood. The chief greeted us at the door.

“Ben Roberts,” he said, shaking my hand. “Thanks for coming, Detective Hayes.”

“It’s Daniel,” I told him. “And this is my partner, Henry Reynolds.”

Roberts nodded at Henry, then motioned for us to enter the house.

“I appreciate you gentlemen driving out here,” he said. “I hope I’m not wasting your time.”

“You’re not,” I said. The three of us were standing in a small foyer. I could hear people talking and moving around in what I assumed was the living room, down the short hallway and to the left.

“When you called,” I said, “you indicated you thought this might be a case for the Special Assignments Squad.”

“Yeah,” he said. “Crime scene’s got kind of a weird look to it. My department doesn’t handle many major crimes, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t your run-of-the-mill homicide. Anyway, c’mon in and have a look.” He led us down the hall and around the corner, and Henry and I got our first look at Ellen.

If it wasn’t for the small hole in the middle of her forehead, it would have been easy to assume that she had simply dozed off while reading that month’s issue of Beautiful Homes, which was lying on the floor next to the large floral-patterned wingchair. Ellen was slumped in the chair, her head tilted to one side, her right hand dangling over the armrest. Her eyes were closed, and there was no noticeable blood.

“Small caliber,” I said. “Maybe a twenty-two.”

Roberts nodded and said, “That’s what I was thinking. Probably a revolver.”

“So no shell casings,” I said.

“And no exit wound,” said Roberts. “Bullet must have bounced around in her head a bit. We’ll find what’s left of it at autopsy.” He shrugged. “Might not be enough to identify or match. We’ll see.”

Henry and I stood for a minute to take in the scene. Ellen appeared to be in her mid-to-late seventies. She was wearing an expensive-looking dark green pants suit, with low-heeled brown shoes. Her white hair was nicely coiffed, as though she’d recently been to a salon, and there was a string of pearls around her neck. I doubted if this was how she dressed for an afternoon at home.

“Who found the body?” I said.

“Next door neighbor, woman named Alice Cloakley. She and the deceased were supposed to go out for lunch today. Ms. Cloakley came over around noon, found the front door ajar, came in and discovered the body.”

“Ms. Cloakley still around?” asked Henry.

Roberts nodded towards the back of the house.

“She’s on the patio. I figured you’d want to talk to her.” He paused, shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “There’s something else. It’s the main reason I contacted you.”

He’d been carrying a large plastic evidence bag, and now he held it up for Henry and me to see.

“We found this on the body.

 

ABOUT ROBERT GERMAUX:

Both my parents were readers. I’m talking stacks-of-books-on-their-nightstands readers. So it’s no surprise that an early age, I, too, became an avid reader. Everything from sports books (especially baseball) to Nancy Drew to the Hardy Boys to almost anything about distant and exotic places. And although I’ve always enjoyed putting words on paper, the writer in me didn’t fully emerge until I retired after three decades of teaching high school English. I quickly wrote two books aimed at middle school readers, at which point my wife urged me to try a novel for adults. As is usually the case, Cynthia’s idea was a good one. Over the next few years, I wrote several books about Pittsburgh private eye Jeremy Barnes, including “Hard Court.” Along the way, I took a brief hiatus from the detective genre to write “The Backup Husband,” the plot line of which came to me one day when I was playing the What-if game. On that particular day, the question that occurred to me was, What if a woman suddenly realized she might be in love with two wonderful men? After “The Backup Husband,” I wrote “Small Talk,” my first novel about Pittsburgh police detective Daniel Hayes. I then switched gears again with “Grammar Sex (and other stuff),” a book of humorous essays. Now I’m back with “One by One,” the second Daniel Hayes mystery, which will be released on June 1st. You can find all of my books on my Amazon Author Page.

In our spare time, Cynthia and I enjoy reading (of course), seeing Broadway plays and musicals, watching reruns of our favorite TV shows, such as “Sports Night” and “The Gilmore Girls,” and traveling to some of those distant and exotic places I used to read about as a child. So far, we’ve been fortunate enough to walk in the sands of Waikiki, swim in the warm waters of the South Pacific and enjoy a romantic dinner in Paris.

I love interacting with my readers and getting their input on my stories and characters. Please feel free to contact me on my website.