GO GO GATO: one week away and counting…

My debut novel GO GO GATO is scheduled for release in one week, on August 1st, and I wanted to say a quick word about marketing/self-promotion.

And the word is this: tough.

It’s tough when you are an introvert and you want to be writer.  I mean, you want people to read your work, and you think your writing is good and people might be entertained by it, but at the same time, you do not want to annoy/pester/piss them off by constantly posting things on Twitter and FB or emailing them asking for favors like writing reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and everywhere else. But alas, that’s part of the gig these days, which, really, I don’t mind doing because I love books so much.  In fact, the only reason I write at all is because I want to toss in my dash of spice to the great big wonderful stew known as Literature. (Did you see what I did there, with the metaphor thingie? How could you not want to read my book?!?)

Anyway, with that said, I would like to pre-thank any and all who have pre-ordered my book. No kidding, it means a lot to me, and I hope you enjoy reading it half as much as I enjoyed banging my head on the desk writing it (seriously, I did/do/will continue to do that. I have issues. Enough said.) I would also like to ask a small favor: after you read my book, if you would post an honest review on Amazon and Goodreads, I would be forever grateful. The review need not be lengthy. Even three or four sentences is a big help, especially if you actually liked the darn thing. Indie and Small Press authors like myself rely on reviews and word of mouth to gain a wider audience, so again, I say thanks in advance.

One more thing: I’m trying out a bit of a catchphrase/motto regarding marketing and my book.  Here it is: If you like it, tell a friend. If you hate it, tell an enemy. (Come on, I’m funny, right? Read my book!)

http://www.amazon.com/Gato-Eli-Sharpe-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B00M179URO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406297416&sr=8-1&keywords=go+go+gato

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Go Go Gato Book Cover

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Here is the cover for my debut detective novel Go Go Gato. This is the first book in the Eli Sharpe series, and it will be released on August 1st (Camel Press). Below is brief “pitch.”

In Go Go Gato, a strikingly handsome young ballplayer named Almario Gato goes missing.  Having recently negotiated a $1.2 million dollar signing bonus from the Colorado Rockies for her best client, Veronica Craven hires a private detective to locate Almario “Go Go” Gato.  Enter Eli Sharpe, an ex-ballplayer turned private detective.  With eight years experience, five ex-fiancées, and charm and wit to spare, Sharpe takes the case.  But after meeting the women in Almario’s life—his statuesque agent, his devoted twin sister, his spoiled girlfriend, and his cocaine-dealing fiancée—Sharpe begins to wonder if Almario is missing or in hiding.  Navigating a quirky cast of characters that could only reside in a hodgepodge town like Asheville, North Carolina, Sharpe soon discovers Almario may very well be in danger.  The mortal kind.

Make Your Mystery Stand Out: Tips from the Marshall Plan for Novel Writing

True story: about a year ago, I received feedback on my mystery novel from a literary agent based out of Los Angeles. Along with a two-page critique, she also sent a multi-page checklist of items she and her agency require before signing a new client. The checklist included dozens and dozens of very specific items–too many to mention here–and while I studied the checklist carefully and gained some helpful insight on what agents are looking for, I was still a bit overwhelmed. . .which brought me back to The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing. Below are excerpts from an article entitled “Make Your Mystery Stand Out.” In it, Evan Marshall–literary agent and best-selling author–boils down the list to three essential elements.I found this incredibly helpful, especially when I was writing the first draft of my detective novel Go Go Gato.

Look for the Hook

In fiction, a hook is a way to promote a book through some aspect that has commercial appeal or provides publishers with a gimmick or “handle” that lends itself to publicity. Your detective might have an occupation that is of high interest in the current culture, is especially timely, is interesting for its very obscurity, or is the same as that of the author. For instance, Patricia Cornwell’s series of mysteries featuring Dr. Kay Scarpetta first became popular at a time when public interest in the world of medical examiners had been heightened by such nonfiction books as Coroner by Dr. Thomas Noguchi, L.A.’s coroner to the stars, not to mention the tremendous public fascination with true crime. That’s Ms. Cornwell’s hook.

 

Dig Into Your Characters

Today’s readers want richly textured characters, especially in the series detective. A clever puzzle for your mystery novel is important but not enough. We must know all of your major characters as people, just as we would know the characters in any well-written novel. For purposes of characterization, think of your book as a novel with mystery, not a mystery novel. Tell us about your characters’ pasts, their psychologies, their faults and weaknesses, their relationships to one another. Remember, it’s your characters who will bring your readers back for more.

 

Devise a Clever

Don’t settle for a plot device if you can recall seeing it in another book, in a movie, or on TV. Work hard to come up with something different. Granted, there are only so many ways to kill someone, but the canny mystery writer will give one of those ways a new twist. The same goes for motive. There’s no excuse for stale clichés; your plotting is truly your own and should bear your distinctive fingerprint.

See more at: http://themarshallplan.net/mysterystandout.htm#sthash.WDGd8jxA.dpuf

5 Tips from The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing

Years ago, I skimmed Evan Marshall’s book The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing.  At the time, I was an undergraduate English major who did more drinking and talking about writing than actual writing, so the book didn’t really make much of an impression on me. Cut to six years later.  I was in a graduate program for Creative Writing, and my professors, all accomplished writers with decades of wisdom and knowledge, were explaining to me, in laborious detail, just how much work it was to write well, and it finally dawned on me that I needed to work on my craft. So I dragged a desk, a laptop, and The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing into the windowless closet of my 400-square foot apartment and got to work. One of the first sections of the book I read (and re-read, and annotated, and applied) was Marhsall’s section on breaking bad writing habits. Suffice to say, I was a serial offender (and still am before revisions), and I wanted to pass a few of these along. I’ve excerpted several very helpful tips below from Marshall’s website, which I’ve also linked to at the bottom of the page. Read and apply!

1)Identify Character Perspective at the Beginning of Each New Chapter

A globally popular mystery writer often likes to start a chapter or new section without identifying which character she’s writing about—the character is “he” or “she” and we scratch our heads, trying to guess who it is, until the writer decides to tell us. Then, once we know, we have to go back and reread those paragraphs to get the fully import of what’s been written.
2)Repetition of Phrases or Body Movements
Perhaps the most common bad writing habit is “She nodded.” “He nodded.” One book I read recently had so much nodding that I had a picture in my mind of a bunch of bobble-head dolls, like in the back window of a car.
3)Unnecessary Punctuation
A common bad writing habit is “Morse Code”: constant use of dots (ellipses) and dashes. This is frequently a beginner’s habit. Characters are always trailing off or being interrupted. Remember, fiction is like life, only neater. Try to let speakers finish speaking whenever possible, and save the Morse Code for when it’s really necessary.

4)Edit Descriptions
Delete unnecessary details. Not: He opened the cupboard, took out a can of beans, opened the drawer, took out the can opener, and opened the can of beans. But: He opened a can of beans. . .Don’t describe what doesn’t need describing. We all know what certain things look like. Describe an object only if it differs from what we’d expect.
5)Describe weather…sparingly
Spare us the weather reports. If the weather matters, describe it quickly and move on.
Reading Marshall’s book and applying the principles therein helped me secure a book contract for my detective novel Go Go Gato. I give his books and website my highest recommendation. I plan on dropping many more of these pearls of editorial wisdom in the future. In the meantime, I’ve linked to two articles on Marshall’s website, one called “Breaking Bad Writing Habits” and one called “Novelist, Edit Thyself.”
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Revision of Go Go Gato…Meet Eli Sharpe, PI

I just received my editor’s comments on Go Go Gato.  Aside from minor tweaks, they are asking I change the main character’s name.  After several days of kicking around names with my wife, and a writer friend of mine at work, and my students, and pretty much anyone whose path I’ve crossed recently, I have settled on… Eli Sharpe.  I’ve always loved one-syllable first and last names, and I dig the name Eli.  Too, I’ve always been obsessed with the cadence and rhythm of a person’s entire name.  Eli Sharpe, to my ear, rolls off the tongue.  Hopefully, one day, the stories of ELi Sharpe will be as loved as the stories of my favorite PIs: Elvis Cole, Spenser, Conway Sax, and Boone Daniels.

I’m very excited to begin reworking Go Go Gato for publication next year. I’m also very grateful to Camel Press for the opportunity to bring my stories to print.

http://camelpress.com