Sunday, November 6, 2016

A French Quarter Violet

Here is the opening of A French Quarter Violet, the latest book I pitched and am waiting for responses. Any comments by my hordes of fans would be appreciated.
Chapter 1
The paramedic didn’t bother to lift his hefty ass off the rear bumper of his ambulance, but managed to flick the butt of his cigarette toward my feet as if marking his territory. I could guess his attitude came from my being female or my being a cop or maybe both. He acted like a grade school bully, with thin lips and close-set eyes that measured Lenny and me. 
Tourists wandering the French Quarter encroached as if we were street performers, but Lenny ushered them along. A piercing trumpet and dull drumming on an upside-down bucket could be heard near Bourbon Street as the afternoon sun descended. 
I pulled out my little notebook of facts, ready with my pen. “I’m Officer Violet Babineaux and this is Officer Lenny Blake. What we got?”
 “Young, white female. Looks like suicide.” The medic lit a new cigarette. “Gun in the mouth. Brains on the wall.”
“I can say the same about smoking.” Lenny’s baritone carried as he plucked the newly lit cancer stick from the man’s lips and tossed it onto Royal Street, adding to the discarded debris the French Quarter tended to collect.
“Hey.” The medic squinted, not quite sure if he wanted to mouth off to an angry black cop large enough to body slam him.
“Where’s the other medic?”
“She’s still with the body. It’s messy.”
“Is one of them the landlord?” I pointed at one man consoling another on the curb in front of Diamond Minds, a quaint jewelry store with a torn green awning. One was a thin man, curled up with his knees to his chest, showing the whites of his eyes. His unkempt gray Afro lifted in the breeze and his ears hung low. The other man was pale, with deep wrinkles.
“Black guy’s the landlord. Mr. Bud Dooley. He’s freaked out. Says the girl’s name is Charlotte something.” 
Wait. Charlotte
The medic continued, “The white guy is the jewelry store owner. Apartment’s right above.” He pointed to an aging window with yellow shudders.
Lenny turned to me. “Let’s hit it, Babineaux.”
My blood pressure had dropped and my stomach growled, and for the third time I wished we had gotten lunch before the call. The second-story window caused my intuition to rise up in my throat. Charlotte’s attempt to contact me has to be a coincidence. The demon possessing that apartment called down to me. Come up and see your friend.
We approached Mr. Dooley, who responded with a snail’s pace. Lenny bent at the waist to get his attention. “Mr. Dooley. I’m Officer Blake and this is Officer Babineaux. We’re going to check out the apartment. We’ll be back down in a few minutes to take your statement, okay?”
“Horrible. So horrible.” His lips trembled for more words that didn’t come. Poor man. I’m glad he didn’t say Charlotte again. I don’t think I could take hearing her name come off his lips. It wasn’t her up there. It couldn't be.
We entered a green door that was propped open on the side of the jewelry store. I noticed that the paramedic had crossed the street to join us, not wanting to waste another cigarette. My noodle legs climbed the narrow flight of stairs, holding the railing with a tight hand. I’d been called to suicides before, but this could devastate me, seeing my closest childhood friend who had just reached out to me yesterday, and whom I had completely ignored. 
At the summit of the stairs, a long, dreary hallway came into view. Light beamed through an open door, which had a crooked 2C barely hanging on. The medic and I entered behind Lenny as the second EMT rose from the kitchen chair. Her pants exaggerated wide curves and she had a butch haircut. Medics weren’t allowed to leave a body alone until relieved. My brain filtered Lenny’s words into sputtering noises as I crept closer to the body on the blood-spattered couch.
It was my Charlotte; the Charlotte that stood by my side during the Little Magnolia Pageants; the Charlotte whose fun-loving personality withered with our friendship until I ran away to start a new life at fifteen. It was the Charlotte who had just yesterday left a note on my door. My Charlotte.
She had shot herself in the mouth. Blood soaked her concert T-shirt above her cute pink shorts. Her body was still in shape, but from metabolism, not working out. Blackish, pasty film coated her mouth, shoulders, and chest. Bits of her skull on the couch proved there would be a nasty exit wound. The gun rested on her side, inches from her hand.
“Violet, what’s wrong?”
Ignoring Lenny’s question, I stepped up to the couch to face her head-on, leaning over to confirm what I already knew. Childhood memories prevented any thoughts of my calming down. Small points of light invaded my vision and the room swirled. Finally, my knees gave out. Charlotte’s body rushed towards me until I saw the nothingness.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Where The Devil Won't Go Giveaway

For the next week (July 30 - Aug. 5), I'll be hosting the giveaway of my novel Where The Devil Won't Go.

Please click on link for details!
https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/4f9bb01762b103b7


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Thrillerfest 2016

This is my third Thrillerfest. It will not be my last.

When I first arrived at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York, I prayed to God Of Pitching in hopes that requests would be plentiful.



My "pitch-dance," although viewed as strange and slightly arousing by hotel guests, worked, as many agents requested material, as well as requested I stop dancing without my shirt on.

At the cocktail party that night, I look out the window to see that Lee Child had arrived by his usual police escort. I found out later that these cops showed because the debut authors had a rumble in Ballroom I, and much blood was spilled.



I'll admit I'm a fan-girl when it comes Gillian Flynn. I had read Sharp Objects and Dark Places just when Gone Girl came out and I thought to contact her. Come to find out she lived very close to me. I tried to get her to meet me and another writer friend out for a bar to talk prose, but her book skyrocketed and that idea was shot to shit.

But, I did get to see Gillian Flynn interviewed by the very talented and hilarious Karin Slaughter. Dirty, dirty minds....


Another fantastic and inspiring interview was with David Morrell and Walter Mosley. I had to leave to take a call in the middle of it, and a huge roar of laughter came from the ballroom, but I'm sure I didn't miss one of the funniest moments ever.  I gotta buy the CD.



And finally, Lee Child Interviewed 2016 Thrillermaster Heather Graham. Not a great pic, but seating was limited and every cell phone was in the air. Two powerhouses talking love, life, family, and tossing food at dinner theater. Wisdom out the bleep-hole! Man, I love this conference!!!



I'll end this little tour by saying that this just a tiny, tiny sample of the exciting goings-on where the peons shake hands with the untouchables. Where Jon Land will get you another beer if you ask. Where you can sit at the hotel bar and rub elbows with agents and share belly-laughs with your peers.

Pretty cool.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Where The Devil Won't Go UPDATE

The editor I hired, Ms. Savannah Thorne - www.savannahthorne.com - did an awesome job on marking up WHERE THE DEVIL WON'T GO. I just finished the edits and trimmed some fat and am very proud of the result. So, for my 'tens' of fans - ha ha - it's re-posted as an ebook. The paper option will be available soon, too. And I'd like to mention that this is the first in a series and there will be more coming.

I'd also like to say to the inspiring writers out there that there is a Chicago conference I'll be attending May 14th this year. www.chicagowritingworkshop.com. I'll be pitching to several agents in the hopes of getting represented.

And then in July I'll be attending the Thrillerfest conference. www.thrillerfest.com to pitch to more agents. If anyone reading this attends, try to find me and say hello! You can even contact me before hand at ejfindorff@aol.com.

Happy reading!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

One Self Publishing Pitfall

So, I "unpublished" my novel WHERE THE DEVIL WON'T GO because my wife found several grammatical errors. Before self-publishing this novel, two trusted beta-readers each found errors that I fixed. I read through the book one more time and found a couple of errors, also.

I thought we caught them all.

You never catch them all.

A month before this, I decided to bite the bullet and pay for a line editor for a new manuscript that I'm shopping around. It is the best decision I ever made. Savannah Thorne at savannahthorne.com was inexpensive and opened my eyes to so many things. I feel like I've turned a corner here.

Anyway, after my wife pointed out a missing word in Where The Devil Won't Go, I pulled it. It is now in the hands of the fabulous Ms. Savannah Thorne. (And don't get fooled by the "she-male" that pops up when you do a Google search - that's not her/him). Ha ha.

I've talked to a few avid readers and it seems they've come to expect the missing word or misplaced comma when reading self-published books. That's a good thing if they're that forgiving, but it's not a good thing to be apathetic about it. As for myself, I am embarrassed to have a handful of people reading through my errors.

Now, this is the first book in the Lucas Peyroux detective series, so Savannah will certainly get the next one soon. As I don't post here too often, please check to see if I re-published Where The Devil Won't Go once this post gets a few weeks old. It shouldn't take that long. Once it is back up, I will make another post.

Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Where The Devil Won't Go

I finally decided to self publish the first novel in my new Lucas Peyroux detective series.

Quick synopsis:

Still shaken from accidentally shooting an innocent girl in the grasp of a crazed killer, Detective Lucas Peyroux’s first case back is a young Jane Doe washed up on the banks of the Mississippi. When the dead woman's sister disappears and local criminals start turning up dead, Peyroux realizes he has a vigilante on his hands, who might just be leading him to something a lot bigger than just another homicide. Can Peyroux track her down before she kills an innocent or ends up like her sister?

Check it out... Another will be out soon!
Where The Devil Won't Go

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Birth of KINGS OF DELUSION

I used to be one of those writers who swore to NEVER, EVER self publish. There used to be many of us.
I’d like to tell the story of how a book called Kings of Delusion came to be self-published. This manuscript is about a serial killer and the girl who got away, set amidst the flooding of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, covering the logistics of the police, paramedics and firemen. Needless to say, there were many challenges. The following is a tale about agents, publishers, editors, test readers, conferences, networking and thick skin. It’s a story about never giving up.
The events that led to the last resort decision of self-publishing Kings of Delusion is an interesting one, filled with many hills and valleys, not to mention a few pot holes. Before Kings Of Delusion came about, my first novel Unhinged had already been published by Medallion Press as an ebook and I figured to be well on my way. I soon learned otherwise. Turned out Medallion didn’t want my new stuff and neither did any agents or publishers I queried after that.
So, I had two books in my new detective series completed and I was sending one off to agents (Kings of Delusion still had yet to be a glimmer). I also joined the International Thriller Writers (ITW) organization as they only accept members who have been traditionally published.
One day I saw the profile of an author on ITW’s website. He listed Cynthia Manson as his agent, so I did quite a bit research to find her email because she did not have a website or advertise. What I did find was that she had made some major publishing deals. I figured not many writers knew of her and maybe I had a shot. Off went my query.
Months later, I received an email form Ms. Manson telling me her late response was due to my emailing to an old address and she was very interested in how I found her. I hadn’t run across an agent like this before, one who didn’t have a big Internet presence, which I thought was fantastic, and a bit odd. She wanted three chapters, impressed with my detective skills.
As luck would have it, she ended up wanting the full manuscript. I waited patiently until she sent an email regretfully turning down the project, not due to writing or liking the story, but that she couldn’t sell it. However, she actually wanted to talk about it over the phone! Any writer worth their weight in form rejections knows how huge a mere personal note is, but to talk on the phone? This in itself was an amazing opportunity.
We spoke for twenty minutes about why she didn’t want to take on the manuscript even though she liked it. She told me mentioning Hurricane Katrina in several spots interested her and if I could write a thriller set during that time, she’d be very intrigued, but no guarantees.
That very day I started jotting down ideas. Just a few months after I started my new project, I attended the Backspace Conference in New York and asked other agents if I should write this book. They all said NO! with varying advice. But being on the precipice of an agent, I ignored them and took on this task, which eventually stalled because I couldn’t get enough details about the activities of the cops during the flooding. The New Orleans public affairs office wouldn’t help me find a source, so I scoured the Internet for every detail and picture I could find until happening upon a blog by a paramedic named William Gilson.
I should say the manuscript would not have been written if not for Mr. Gilson. He told an amazing story of four or five days during the flooding of New Orleans, of what he had to do to survive alongside the police and firemen. His experiences had me riveted and I contacted him to pick his brain. He agreed to let me weave his harrowing days in the flood into my story about a serial killer. Within six months I had a manuscript prepared, not just driven because I had an agent’s attention, but because this novel turned out to be a labor of love.
Kings of Delusion had been amazing to write and I enjoyed every minute of it. I sent it off to Ms. Manson, who although impressed with the quickness of completing a manuscript in six months, still unexpectedly rejected it (insert disappointing cartoon music). But I couldn’t blame her if I didn’t write the book she was looking for. However, she did want to help it find a home.
She graciously suggested that I send it to her colleague Al Longden, which I did. She suggested if he liked it, they could possibly share the duties in representation. She had a special interest in movie rights.
Mr. Longden loved it.
I spoke to each of them again in that highly coveted call regarding representation and signing a contract, glad that they couldn’t see my happy dance—the type seen after one scores a touchdown. Next, Ms. Manson’s editor took a look at Kings and suggested that instead of revealing the killer in the middle of the book where the thrilling chase begins, reveal him at the end. Both agents agreed, as well as a friend of mine, so I made that major rewrite.
TIP: There’s a fine line between being stubborn about changing your work and trusting your intuition that something needs changing. Read your work like someone else wrote it and then be honest with yourself.
I originally called this manuscript TOXIC CITY, which Ms. Manson hated, saying it reminded her of some kind of nuclear Armageddon. I then suggested KREWE OF EXODUS, which they vetoed. We threw names back and forth for a while until I came up with BLOODWATER. Hey, it rhymes with floodwater. C’mon! They were both fine with it. And it stayed BLOODWATER for a while, but I will always refer to it as “Kings” in this blog.
Ms. Manson told me up front that she would only send Kings to her contacts at the big houses and let Mr. Longden handle the rest. She did as promised and the rejections, although favorable and flattering, were still rejections. Mr. Longden started sending out the manuscript to a few publishers, but then he had some personal issues to deal with. After a year of Kings sitting idle, I wanted to move on, so both agents and I parted ways.
Wow. Two-plus years gone. Good thing I kept writing new material. Always, always, always, work on new material.
I couldn’t even show Ms. Manson book two or three of the detective series because she had already rejected the first one. So at the time, not counting Kings of Delusion, I had four books total and one halfway done. I decided to take the notes from the editors who rejected Kings and do another rewrite to address the concerns that made sense. Once satisfied and happy with the product, I began the whole process of querying again, but I found out that no one wanted to touch Kings because of where it had been, like it was a defiled virgin.
But I didn’t give up. I created a test-reader group on goodreads.com where our good friend Mr. Rick Taubold became a group member and nine other people participated. They agreed that the suspects in Kings of Delusion needed to be involved from the beginning. Yes, I thought. YES! I could certainly see their point and knew this would be the final, missing piece.
Night after night, I worked on rewriting the first third of the manuscript, and when I was done, I let Rick and few others read it again and received their approval. After three major surgeries, it was ready to be seen with the sole intention of pitching it at Thrillerfest 2014, and then self-publishing if rejected there.
Attending Thrillerfest in New York was a blast. All writers should network at conferences if possible. The face-to-face is invaluable and inspiring. So, I pitchedKings of Delusion with eight or nine agents, but it was still damaged goods. No one wanted my baby! Defeated, I considered that I had other manuscripts to lure agents/publishers, but I couldn’t let Kings start collecting dust again.
Yes. I had to self publish it. Hell, Kings had earned the right to be self-published. I couldn’t let this amazing manuscript (in my opinion) wither and die in anonymity. I had Rick edit the bastard while I created a cover. It was during this last rewrite where the title “Kings Of Delusion” was born, having been mentioned to describe the suspects at a poker game. I did no testing on this name. I had some grand vision of the book making the title instead of the other way around, as Silence Of The Lambs and A Raisin In The Sun had done.
For the cover, I found two images and bought the rights rather cheaply. Having a design background, I made several versions of the cover it came to be. I wanted the title to be huge because these covers are basically shown as thumbnails on ereader websites. And it also looks good on the paperback, too. I chose Createspace and Kindle Direct Publishing. Yes, I’m tied to Amazon with the ebook, but the paperback gets bigger distribution, however lower sales.
It’s kind of an anti-climatic moment to finally see Kings for sale and yet, no one was rushing to read it, but I understand the long journey to build reviews and get the word out. Avid readers already have loads of books they want to read and can’t get to. The challenge is making them believe they can’t wait. Would I have been better off with a small publisher? I’d be doing the same marketing and publicity anyway. When several respected authors told me it’s better in some ways, I felt a lot better about it.
Now, the hard part (as if everything I just explained was cake) is how to get everyone’s attention on Kings of Delusion. Just call Oprah, right? Brad Pitt lives in the French Quarter, just throw a copy up on his balcony. Genius! In reality, I’m trying things on Goodreads.com and soliciting for reviews and giving it away for free and am beginning to research other avenues. But the major breakthrough has to happen first before I can write about it.
Hopefully that will be very soon.