Book Review: A Quiet Life in the Country

Superb indie writers abound. Many readers complain about the indie revolution and all the crappy books out there. Granted, there are a lot of crappy books being published. But they aren’t all indie. A very sizable portion of them come from the corporate giants on their never-ending quest for the next blockbuster.

Some of the best books I’ve read this year and last year were written by indie authors. And some of the worst books I’ve read last year and this year were published by the big corporations. In this day and age, who publishes a book is no guarantee of the book’s quality.

Last week, I reviewed indie author Agatha Frost, who writes contemporary cozy mysteries. This week, I want to take a look at cozy author T. E. Kinsey, who started out going indie and then accepted a publishing deal from Thomas & Mercer, an Amazon imprint.

When I picked up a copy of A Quiet Life in the Country it was #1 on Amazon’s list of Bestselling Cozy Mysteries. That was on 2 July 17. As of yesterday (7 August), the book was #15. A long ride being in the top 20.

So what makes Kinsey’s 1908 aristocratic sleuth, Lady Hardcastle, so popular? To me the answer is simple: appealing characters, humor, and good storytelling.

The same combo that works for Agatha Frost, works for Mr Kinsey. In fact, it’s the same combo that pretty much works for every author or book I like.

The only downside to A Quiet Life In The Country is that the pacing tips towards the glacial. What saved the book for me was the humor. The jokes and puns and banter made the slow spots bearable.

The storyline is the same as in all mysteries. Lady Hardcastle and her servant, who is also her friend, have moved to the country after a life of adventure. And then they stumble across the body and then another.

Through a ruse they are allowed to work with the police detective. Eventually Lady Hardcastle and the detective solve the murders.

All pretty standard. Which is why character and humor are so important, as well as good storytelling — which turns the already familiar plot into something interesting.

Highly recommended! Get yourself a copy of A Quiet Life In The Country. You won’t be sorry.

Comments are always welcome! And until next time, happy reading!

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A Nest of Spies

Yesterday, A Nest Of Spies (Justinia Wright Private Investigator Mysteries, Book 5) went on pre-pub sale.

In this new mystery, Tina meets some old friends, we learn a bit more about her mysterious past, and are with her as she fends off the FBI and the Patriot Act. Pick up a copy for just 99¢!

I decided to collect books 0 through 4 into an omnibus edition: Justinia Wright Private Investigator Mysteries Omnibus Edition. At $7.99, it’s 60% off the individual volume retail. If you haven’t met Miss Wright, this is a good time to do so!

The traditional mystery is my cup of tea, particularly the private eye mystery. I don’t read mysteries for the puzzle. That sounds odd, doesn’t it? As with all the fiction I read, I read for the characters. I am more interested in how the sleuth reacts to the problem than in looking for the clues to solve the case ahead of the detective.

They’re also somewhat slower paced. I don’t particularly care for thrillers. There’s too much frenetic activity in them for my liking.

After the third Quiller novel, I stopped reading. They were all same and the situations Quiller found himself in and how he got out of them stretched my sense of credulity to the breaking point.

The same with Jack Reacher. I read the first two books and my reaction was meh. Lots of action kept me turning pages, but in the end I didn’t care for, nor even much liked, Jack Reacher. He was too perfect and pretty much made of cardboard.

Lee Child created Reacher to be that person who gives all the playground bullies the thrashing they deserve and don’t often get. Unfortunately, for me, he does so too perfectly and has such a bland persona I don’t care about him.

On the other hand, I love reading Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe. Eccentric to a fault, Wolfe is nevertheless likable. And wisecracking Archie Goodwin? How can you not like him? The banter between Wolfe and Goodwin truly spices things up in a way no thriller can touch.

If you like a solid traditional private eye mystery, take a look at Justinia Wright. The pacing isn’t frenetic, but there are plenty of thrills and spills. Along with eccentricities, there’s wit, wisecracking humor, and good old sibling rivalry.

Comments are always welcome and, until next time, happy reading!

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Jack Reacher, Lydia Chin, and U-Boats

Today I thought I’d share with you some of the books I’ve been reading. Specifically a couple of traditionally published authors whose books I’ve been exploring, as well as a return to an old interest.

Jack Reacher

In the thriller world, Lee Child’s creation, Jack Reacher, is all the rage. Sometime ago I picked up Number 15 in the series in a used bookstore. I’d never heard of Lee Child or Jack Reacher at that point and since the book was the fifteenth in the series and because I have a penchant to read series books in order, I set it aside until I could get the earlier books.

Then I learned of the Jack Reacher craze and bought the first two books just to see what all the fuss was about. I bought them used because I have a policy not to buy any new books published by the Big Five. Mostly because the Big Five charges way too much for books, especially e-books.

And without a doubt I’m glad to say I didn’t pay anymore then the two cents plus shipping that I paid for the books, because I’m not at all impressed with Jack Reacher.

What I actually found most helpful was Mr. Child’s introduction to the first book in the series in which he explained how he created Jack Reacher and a bit about his philosophy of writing. That was valuable information and should be read by all writers.

So what didn’t I like about Mr Child’s writing?

  • Mediocre writing. The books are over 500 pages long in the paperback versions and that’s about 200 pages too much. They are wordy and Mr Child continually defuses the suspense with lengthy descriptions and explanations. Which seems odd that one would want to kill suspense in a suspense novel.
  • Technical inaccuracy. The first two books are riddled with inaccurate terms and information regarding firearms. Mr Child clearly knows nothing about guns — and he apparently didn’t bother to do sufficient research.
  • An unbelievable main character. Jack Reacher clearly fulfills Mr Child’s intentions as to what he wanted to achieve in a main character. Child wanted someone who never loses. A wish fulfillment for everyone who’s suffered at the hands of a schoolyard bully. The problem is, Reacher is boring. He is never in any real trouble. He’s always in control and the few times he isn’t he always knows he’ll get the upper hand eventually. He has a few quirks which come off as more stupid than interesting. And Reacher’s personality is about as interesting as a cold fish.

Personally, I think the only reason Lee Child got a publishing contract is because he was a TV writer before he turned to fiction. It’s all about who you know.

Needless to say, I won’t be buying anymore Jack Reacher novels. I might read more if I were to get the books for free. But even then that would be iffy. Just too many better books out there.

Lydia Chin/Bill Smith

S J Rozan was an architect who decided to try her hand at novel writing. She’s garnered numerous awards and nominations for her mystery detective series featuring Lydia Chin and Bill Smith.

The series currently numbers 11 novels and since the last one was published in 2011 it may be at an end, as her two latest books our paranormal thrillers which she co-authored.

The series is somewhat unique in that the odd numbered novels are told from Lydia’s point of view and the even numbered ones from Bill’s.

I’ve read the first 3 and number 4 is in the queue.

Ms Rozan’s style is exquisite. Very polished. No extraneous anything. Lydia and Bill are well-drawn. They end up winning, but aren’t infallible. They come across as real people. By way of contrast, I’d say Jack Reacher is about as complex as a comic book character.

Lydia’s and Bill’s world is New York City. And Ms Rozan makes their world come alive for us. Her word painting is superb.

Of the two characters, I prefer Lydia Chin. She is more colorful and her Chinatown world is fascinating. Even Bill Smith is more interesting in the books where Lydia is the point of view character.

When Bill tells the story, everything is duller and somewhat darker. At least in the one Bill Smith point of view novel I read. We’ll see if that changes in the next one I read.

As of right now, I plan to get all of the Lydia Chin/Bill Smith mysteries. They are pretty much as good as it gets.


U-Boats? Why U-Boats, you might be thinking. I’ve studied history all my life. Majored in it for my B.A. and continued with courses in grad school. There are many aspects of history one can study and technological development is a very intriguing aspect.

Most know I’m crazy about airships. What most don’t know is that I’m also fascinated by submarines. The two are very much the opposites of each other. What it takes to fly a rigid airship is the same skills it takes to navigate a submarine. The one is in air, the other water.

I’m also fascinated by the losers in history. It isn’t always the good guys who win, unfortunately. They do, however, get to write the history books.

Recently, I watched a World War II movie about an Allied force that captures a German U-Boat in a stealth operation. Complete fiction. And complete propaganda. All the typical war movie tropes: all the Germans get killed and only one American does; the Germans can’t fix their diesel engine but the Americans can; the Americans in the middle of a tense situation with only one person able to speak German, figure out all the German instructions on how to run the boat; the German sub trying to recapture the U-Boat has all its torpedoes miss, but the Americans with only one torpedo left are able to sink the pursuing German sub; and on it goes.

What the movie did do was spark a renewal of my interest in submarines. Currently I’m reading two books from the German’s perspective on the Battle of the Atlantic. One from World War I and the other from World War II.

To me, the most interesting thing is if you were to simply change the perspective the books could have been written by the victors. In other words, the motivation behind the Allied and Axis troops to fight was the same. A vague sense of patriotism mainly. Rarely a devotion to ideology

To achieve balance in one’s understanding of history, one needs to read both sides.

We, as individuals, are the sum total of not only our past, but the past of our people. The more we understand the past, the more we understand ourselves. Our past defines who we are at this very moment. It may or may not define the future. That usually depends on how well we understand past drivers.

To read the exploits of the U-Boat commanders and their crews is giving me an appreciation for those men who have been so brutally demonized by Allied propaganda, but who in reality were no different than those men they were fighting.

A study of history quickly shows the historian people are people, no matter where they are found.


That’s some of what I’ve been reading of late. I’ve, of course, been reading other books and reviews of some of those will be forthcoming.

As always, comments are welcome! And until next time, happy reading!

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Vampire House and Other Early Cases



Justinia Wright and her brother, Harry, are my favorite creations. They weren’t the first of my imaginings to spring to life on paper, but they are the ones who have been in my mind the longest.

Tina and Harry sprang to life shortly after I read Raleigh Bond’s short story “Meet Athalia Goode” in an issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine way back in 1982. However, it took seven more years before I chronicled their first adventure: Festival of Death.

What I realized in writing my first novel is that I wasn’t ready to write a novel. The manuscript went into a filing cabinet drawer and stayed there for 25 years. When I pulled it out in 2014, the book was hopelessly out of date. I kept the first chapter, with modifications, and rewrote the novel; sticking more or less to the original idea.

The result was a much better story. Sometimes, one simply isn’t ready. Sometimes, one needs to learn more. And sometimes, one must simply wait and experience life.

Vampire House and Other Early Cases of Justinia Wright, PI is now available for pre-pub purchase for a mere 99 cents. Do get a copy before the price goes up on Halloween.

This new addition to Tina and Harry’s oeuvre is a collection seven cases that chronologically pre-date Festival of Death and form a prequel of sorts. Hence my numbering of the volume as Book 0.

I enjoy short stories and short novels very much. Prefer them, in fact, to the massively thick tomes that seemed to be popular today.

The reasons I enjoy short works, I think, are two: I grew up with them and I often find I don’t have the time to do a larger work justice.

Think about it. Books for kids are short. In many cases they are actually short stories or novellas. One of my favorite books is Wingman, a YA “novel” by Daniel Pinkwater. It is a mere 73 pages of large print text and pictures. Yet, it is one of the most moving stories I’ve ever read. Good things do come in small packages. Which is why I’m baffled when I read or hear of folks who don’t like short stories because they don’t contain enough character development or the storyline is too skimpy. Some of the most powerful pieces of fiction I have ever read are short stories. Stories such as “Sredni Vashtar” by Saki, “Silent Snow, Secret Snow” by Conrad Aiken, and “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway are merely three among many.

The other reason is time. A 500, 600, 700 page novel a major time investment. Especially if I want to keep all the characters and story lines clear in my mind. That takes a degree of concentration, which if I’m busy is sometimes difficult to muster. Reading a hefty novel is something that requires, for me anyway, more than one or two sittings and sometimes reading a book of substantial length may take me upwards of a month. I’m not the world’s speediest reader. A short book, on the other hand, I can knock off in an hour or a couple days at the most.

As the average age of the fiction buying public gets younger, I think the demand for shorter works will increase. The Millennials and Gen Z folks have never known a world without computers. Statistics reveal a different pattern of reading for these people. Information and entertainment is consumed via their smart phones. They are used to short presentations which are often video. Presentations and attention spans are shorter. Think YouTube, Twitter, FaceBook, and one minute vids on Snapchat or other social media. Short is in. And considering half of all books are read on a smart phone, there is a compelling case for short fiction. I think there is a real danger that fiction as we know it might just wander off into oblivion under the onslaught of other entertainment forms. That’s something to think about.

Short is in. In spite of what Amazon and the Big 5 want to believe. Amazon’s penalty in KDP select for short works by switching to payment by the page read. The Big 5’s insistence on mandatory long page lengths for novels, so they can justify printing. That kind of thinking reveals those folks to be dinosaurs catering to us Baby Boomers and older folks, who unfortunately are facing the end of our days. Short is in, whether we older folks like it or not.

Vampire House and Other Early Cases of Justinia Wright, PI is a collection of short stories and a short novel. They were fun to write and are hopefully fun to read. They’re packed with humor, sibling rivalry, dastardly villains, a touch of love, and puzzles to solve.

I love Tina and Harry and I hope you do too. Vampire House and Other Early Cases is only 99 cents until Halloween. Take the treat now! A mere buck for a rollicking good time.

Comments are always welcome! And until next time, happy reading!

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Book Review: Entangled by J. Evan Stuart

What makes for a good mystery? For me, it is having a sleuth who is memorable. Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe, Sam Spade, Phryne Fisher, Kinsey Milhone, Nick and Nora Charles, Mr and Mrs North, Hercule Poirot, Inspector Morse, Inspector Barnaby, Matt Scudder.

I don’t remember the individual cases, the puzzles the detectives solved, I remember the detectives themselves. They are colorful, unique, quirky, and have a splash of panache.

For me, the characters make the story and therefore I tend to be quite forgiving if the puzzle is less than perfect, because I don’t really care about the puzzle anyway. And this holds true for me no matter what genre I read. Give me interesting characters and I am happy, just like that proverbial clam. The story is only there to make the character shine. It is as Ray Bradbury said, create your character, let him do his thing, and there is the story.

In Entangled by J Evan Stuart, Detective Sonya Reisler is just such a sleuth. She’s memorable. She has a strong sense of justice. She wants to prove herself and is willing to take risks to do so. And she has a past.

We love angst-filled detectives, don’t we? Matt Scudder, Jackson Brody, Phryne Fisher, Aimée Leduc, my own Justinia Wright. A past the detective is trying to hold at bay or run from. A haunting past he or she can’t get rid of any more than they can get rid of their brains.

Sonya has a past. A past which forces her to make decisions she might not otherwise make and to trust people no normal police detective would trust. And that’s what makes Entangled such a good read. It is the rollercoaster ride we emotionally share with Sonya as she tries to find the real killer instead of hanging it on the easy and innocent victim which the lazy sheriff wants to do — and at the same time deal with her demons.

Not that Entangled isn’t a good story in its own right, for it is. The storyline kept me on the edge of my seat. A classic howdunit, with a whizz-bang ending. What is significant, in my opinion, is that the story is the perfect stage on which the characters can do their thing and in the process tell us their stories. To me, that is the work of a superb writer.

This debut novel by J Evan Stuart is not only exquisite entertainment, it goes deeper and addresses what touches us as human beings most deeply: namely, relationships; both their significance and importance to us as social creatures. For even the most misanthropic curmudgeon amongst us still responds to a kind word and a gentle touch.

Entangled by J Evan Stuart is very highly recommended. The book is truly a cut above and one not to be missed.

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Interview with J. Evan Stuart!

One of the best books I read last year was Entangled, the debut novel of J. Evan Stuart. I enjoy character-driven mysteries and Entangled fits the bill to a T. And today, I’m excited to bring to you this interview with a very talented up and coming writer. Without further ado, meet J. Evan Stuart!

cover copy web

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve always been a reader. From the time I was young I always had a love for books and would look forward to escaping into make believe worlds. I can’t say I’ve always wanted to write and just kind of started on a whim. For awhile I was tutoring students and a boy I was working with had an assignment to write a story beginning and the focus was on conflict. We came up with an initial scene taking place in a restroom where two boys confront each other and an iPod ends up being dropped in a toilet. For whatever reason the scene stayed with me and a year later I took pen to paper and wrote it out. Once I got started that was it. I have been writing for about six years now.

What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?

My debut novel is Entangled. About three years ago I found a small news article in the newspaper. It was no more than a couple hundred words about a thirteen year old boy in a small Kansas ranching and farming town who was accused of murdering his parents and shooting his siblings. The article struck a chord with me, so I cut it out and saved it. Months later I wrote what would be the first chapter. It was a year after that I began to write the story.

How would you categorize your book?

It is a police procedural mystery with strong thriller and suspense elements. Because one of the dual protagonists is an eighteen year old accused of killing his parents and is on the run, it could easily crossover into YA. I think it would also appeal to those who like to read romantic suspense, as long as they want a story that is heavy on suspense and want a romance that is subtle. Minus bulging muscles and various other body parts.

Introduce us to your lead protagonists.  What is it about these character(s) that appeal to you as a writer?

The story starts with the reader being introduced to Connor Evans. He’s a high school kid who hates ranching and small town life in Ashlin, Nebraska. While his father expects him to follow in his footsteps of carrying on the family ranch, Connor has no interest in ranching which often puts him at odds with his father. The only escape he has from the boredom and his strained relationship with his dad is sneaking out to drink with his friends which often leads to them getting in trouble with the local authorities. When his parents are murdered all the evidence points to him and he finds himself on the run trying to deal with his grief and avoid being caught.

Sonya Reisler is a newly promoted detective with the Nebraska State Patrol. She wants to credit her ambition and dedication as the reasons for her promotion but, when she finds her new partner is her former mentor and lover, she has her doubts whether she truly earned her promotion. Sonya is sent to Ashlin to look over a murder investigation case before it is sent to the DA. She begins to notice small things that make her question whether Connor Evans committed the crime and gets the okay to conduct her own investigation. The nature of the crime hits close to home for Sonya and has her facing memories and demons she’s spent a lifetime burying. When her path crosses with Connor’s, professional lines become blurred. What starts out as an opportunity for her to prove to herself she earned her promotion, quickly escalates into something that could end her career altogether.

I think readers will find Connor the easier of the two to understand. Through flashbacks and his actions in the present, we see a teenager trying deal with his world being turned upside down and the aloneness he feels. Sonya is more of a mystery. She has a past that readers only see glimpses of, but we really only see her in the present. Something is fueling her desire to solve the case but we don’t know what it is until the very end. I think Sonya and Connor play off of each other well throughout the entire novel.

How did the book come to be titled?  Or, how does the title relate to the story?

Entangled is a good description of what happens to Sonya when she lets this case become personal and gets so deeply involved it becomes impossible to free herself from it.

Tell us more about the cover design.  How involved were you with creating the cover?

I was very involved in the cover design and sketched out how I wanted the characters positioned and what elements needed to be present. I sent my sketches to Ronnell Porter who expanded on my ideas and created the final product. I think his addition of the yellow police tape across Connor was a great idea. Connor, in many ways, is a danger to Sonya, causing her to cross many lines when it comes to this case. I think the cover really conveys what readers will find in the story.

Describe your writing process.

In a word? Chaotic. I work in scenes, usually starting with the dialogue that occurs between characters then slowly fleshing it out. I often don’t know the exact setting or even where in the story that particular scene will take place. I just picture it and know it will happen somewhere in the story. As more scenes form and are fleshed out, I continue to build on them, rearranging them until the story starts to come together. Then it’s a matter of stitching everything together. This method tends to give me more flexibility than if I were to work in a linear fashion.

How much research did you put into your book/series?

I ended up doing quite a bit of research for this story starting with the setting. I looked at many states where cattle ranching is done and Nebraska seemed to fit the bill for the other story elements I needed. While Ashlin is a fictional town along with some other features, many other places mentioned are real. I also had to do some research on the Nebraska State Patrol and some legal elements. My main goal was to make the story plausible and believable as possible.

What is the best advice received as an author?

I’ve been very fortunate in that I have had good support in my writing journey and have gotten a lot of good advice along the way. One of the best pieces of advice I received was to trust your readers. As a novice I was guilty of overwriting and over explaining because I was unsure of myself as a writer and wanted to make sure my readers understood what I was saying. Once I trusted that the readers would get what I was saying without my spoon feeding them, my writing greatly improved.

What specific authors or books influence how you write today?

This is a tough question. I think everything I read, good or bad, becomes part of the collective. I can tell if I really like a book because I will want to reread it again immediately. With the subsequent read I will really try and figure out what it is the author is doing that makes me love the story. One author that does come to mind that I found particularly interesting when it comes to writing style is Lisa McMann. In her book Wake, I was really taken with the brevity of her writing and how she used very short sentences that packed a lot of punch. I think that tends to stick with me when I write.

What types of genres do you read now for pleasure and do they influence what you write today?

I’m still a huge fan of YA and MG (middle grade) literature and I also love fantasy. For the most part I will read anything that sounds interesting.  I’m partial to character driven stories, so as long as I like the characters it really doesn’t matter the genre. As for what I write, I started with writing fantasy and paranormal because that was what I read most. Writing a police procedural mystery came as kind of a surprise for me since that is the genre I read the least.

What is next for you?

Currently I am working on the second book in the series entitled Enmeshed. I am hoping to complete it sometime in 2016.

Where you can buy Entangled and get in touch with J. Evan Stuart!

Entangled on Amazon!



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What’s Cooking?

Today is the last day of June. Half the year is over and I thought I’d give an update as to where things are at in my little corner of the world. You can read here what I planned for 2015 and make comparisons, if you like.


Thus far, I have 8 books published in 3 series with a standalone novella. Sales are exceedingly modest, but then I’ve done little to advertise them. Right now I’m writing and to be honest I feel the weight of years. Statistically speaking, I have about 20 years remaining. Morbid sounding, I know. But as Eeyore said, I’m not complaining, that’s just how it is.

I have so many book and story ideas, I don’t know if 20 years will be enough. So at present, I feel compelled to write and not do much marketing. But there is also the fact that while I have 8 books published, they are in 4 different genres and sub-genres.

My contribution to post-apocalyptic cozy catastrophes, The Rocheport Saga, has 3 books thus far. My mystery series, Justinia Wright, PI, stands at one novel and a novella collection. The dieselpunk alternative history series From the Files of Lady Dru Drummond also consists of a mere two books. And then there is the one psychological/supernatural horror novella, Do One Thing For Me.

Looking at it by genre, I don’t have many books in each genre. Hugh Howey had 7 science fiction books published when Wool appeared. I have a little ways to go to reach 8 books in one genre/sub-genre. So, taking a page out of Howey’s book, I’m writing now and marketing later.

But most importantly, I’m having fun!

Works in Progress

I do not have a dearth of ideas. If anything, I have a surfeit. Makes it difficult for me to focus at times. At the moment, I’m trying to concentrate on three stories.

Currently I’m working on typing and editing/revising book number four in The Rocheport Saga. Word count thus far is at 15,000. The series is my best seller to date. And there is a lot more manuscript material to go through. I’m guessing I wrote something over a half-million words (2200 handwritten pages) and the three novels out at this point comprise about 160 to 170 thousand words. So I’m guessing the series will have 9, maybe 10 novels when it finally ends.

I’m writing Justinia Wright, PI #3. After several fits and starts, I think I finally have a handle on the story. To date, I have 10,700 words typed and much more handwritten. I’m hoping to finish the book in the next month or two.

My new dieselpunk tale, featuring a new character, Rand Hart, stands at 14,300 words written and typed. Given where I’m at in the storyline and how much I have written, the story might reach novella length. Otherwise it will be a long novelette. And it too I hope to have out by September.

Future Books

If I get my wish, there will be lots. I’ve recently completed 3 flash fiction pieces (or short short stories as they used to be called) which I intend to include in a short story collection, hopefully published before year’s end.

In addition to the short story collection, I’d like to try to bring out The Rocheport Saga #5 before January 1st.

I have a completed short novella which might be the start of another post-apocalyptic series of possibly 7 books. Instead of waiting to publish it when I have additional books written, I’m thinking of publishing the tale as a standalone in the fall.

Lady Dru Drummond fans, do not despair! I have two ideas for further adventures of our intrepid reporter and once Rand Hart and Justinia Wright are completed, I intend to focus on Lady Dru.

In addition to the above, I have two potential space opera series on which I’ve spent time writing. These are incomplete and I’d like to return to them at some point. I also have partially completed: a fantasy novel, sci-fi historical novel, a seafaring novel, and a bunch of short stories.

In short, more is a comin’.

KDP Select

As of today, my books are no longer enrolled in KDP Select. I’ve written about that here, so I won’t spend much more time on it. In the coming weeks, they will be available in other markets.

I believe the free market is the best economic model. But the “free” in free market means everyone gets to compete without government control (which is fascism, by the way) and monopolies are not tolerated, because monopolies are just another form of control.

Amazon has taken over the book business. Everyone has to deal with Amazon. Whether we want to or not. Also keep in mind no monopoly or near monopoly is our friend.

So I’ve decided it is time to put my eggs into more than one basket and to give Amazon a bit of competition. Which I’ve also taken to a personal level: if I can get anything at a vendor other than Amazon, I will. The only way to beat a monopoly is to support the competition. Which is why I will also encourage folks to buy my books from vendors other than Amazon.

Draft 2 Digital

After researching Smashwords and alternatives to Smashwords, I’ve decided to use Draft 2 Digital as my aggregator to reach other markets.

Why not Smashwords? I think The Passive Voice article and the comments (link below) make the case why Smashwords is not my aggregator of choice. Take a moment to read MCA Hogarth’s “Leaving Smashwords”.

A friend recently uploaded her book to D2D and was done in half an hour or less. No problems whatsoever. Within several days, it was on Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Scribd, and the other vendors D2D contracts with. I like no problems.

D2D takes 15% of net royalties (or about 10% of gross). But it saves me time uploading to the vendors myself, which leaves me more time to write.

Other Formats

For the remainder of this year, I will be working on putting out paper versions of my books. I know there are folks who truly prefer paper books. There is a tactile experience with a paper book that one doesn’t get with an eReader. Personally, I like looking at shelves of books and holding a book in my hand. So paperbacks are coming. Although, ironically, I read more books on my iPad.

I’m also exploring audiobooks, because I have friends who prefer to listen to a book being read. The problem is production of an audiobook is expensive. Three to four thousand dollars. So I’m exploring doing it myself. As this unfolds, I’ll keep you all in the loop.

My Reading List

Like most writers, I like to read. In fact I enjoyed reading before I ever considered writing. So if you have a great book you’ve read, please share it with me! So what’s on my reading list?


  • The works of Kazuo Ishiguro. That’s 7 novels and a short story collection.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson: Thrawn Janet and The Suicide Club
  • The White Company by Arthur Conan Doyle


  • Simon Garfield’s We Are At War and Our Hidden Lives
  • Because this is the centenary of World War I, The Beauty and the Sorrow by Peter Englund
  • And re-read David Shi’s excellent studies in simple living: The Simple Life and In Search of the Simple Life

Life In General

Being retired is wonderful. I recommend it to everyone. Work is so very much overrated! I think I’m enjoying retirement because I planned for it. Throughout 2014 I worked on my novels, built my website, learned social media, and prepared for my new career as an author. When I left work Friday afternoon on the 23rd of January 2015, I had a few regrets — after all one makes friends working at a place for 30 years. But when I woke up on the 24th, I sat at my desk and put pencil to paper. And when Monday rolled around, I breathed a sigh of relief. I had no virtual clock to punch. I WAS FREE!! And I put pencil to paper and wrote.

April, May, and a week in June I spent with my sister. It was a wonderful time. Then I spent a week with my dad in Arizona and finally returned to Minnesota.

Life is good. Life is what you make it. And right now, writing everyday, I’m having the time of my life.

One downer is that the freighter cruise to Samoa I so much wanted to take, doesn’t seem to be offered any longer. A whole bunch to China, but I’m not interested in seeing China. I want to see Samoa! More research is needed on that front.

Now that I’m back home, I am going to go bicycle shopping. I’d like to get a nice used bike and take advantage of the summer to get out from behind my desk for an hour or two each day.

One thing I have found of interest is that since I’ve retired, I’m seeing everything in somewhat of a different light. I’m more content and satisfied. I truly have time for enjoying il dolce far niente — the sweetness of doing nothing. And I love it! I find little things are very satisfying. To watch a favorite show on TV. To read that book, or write a letter. To just sit and listen to a piece of music. Or to drink tea and savor it or cherries (I so love cherries!). Even grocery shopping is a delight.

Life is what you make it. Make it good.

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