Thursday, October 25, 2012

DEATH OF A MATADOR Ebook Available on Amazon

I'm pleased to announce that after 18 months my new Grant Starr thriller is available in ebook format on I've ordered the proof for the quality paperback version. I expect to take a few weeks to get it proofed, make any necessary corrections, and upload the new files.

Why only Amazon? I used to offer my books on other venues like Smashwords, iBooks, and Barnes and Noble, but I sold practically nothing on those sites. When Amazon introduced it's Select program, I decided to sign up although it meant removing my ebook titles from all other sites. Nothing's happened to make me change my mind since.

DEATH OF A MATADOR was initially slated to be released last fall, but life got in the way. I'm still behind schedule as my next Grant Starr thriller was expected out about now. It's not likely to be released until next spring.

DEATH OF A MATADOR is not a THE MIGHTY T, which I think is a better book. It has more action, explosions, knife play, etc. While not the best of the two, I think MATADOR is a damn good story. I'm especially fond of Mayor Manny, a rascal and a murderer. I liked how his character turned out so much I was tempted to name the book MAYOR MANNY. Thank goodness I didn't.

The book is dedicated to Nancy, whose last name I'll keep private. Nancy was a patient of mine (I no longer practice) deeply involved in the Portuguese Catholic community. I treated her for years and listened to many stories of festas (pronounced "feshta"), bullfights, queens, dances, and parades.

In the spring of 2011, after I'd self-published THE MIGHTY T and CANALS, I was looking for another idea for a book. In comes Nancy for a treatment, and this time when she mentioned she'd been at a bullfight again, it clicked. I asked her to tell me more about the bullfights and the rest, as they are fond of saying, is history.

Much of what I know about the Portuguese in the Central San Joaquin Valley I learned from Nancy. They are the most active group of people I've ever met. Here's what Manny tells Grant and McKay in chapter four, when he's giving them a lesson on Portagees:

“Now lemme tell you about the church. Portagees love their church almost as much as they love their land and their damn cows. They love it so much they make up reasons to celebrate it every damn weekend from April to November. We got parades for cows and we got celebrations for saints nobody else ever heard of. And Portagees eat. Goddamn how we eat. You’d think everyone of us would be as big as a house the way we eat.

“But we ain’t, and let me tell you why: Portagees work. Sure, we got a few lazy ones, but most Portagees work their ass off all their life. There’s no such thing as a Portagee takin’ a retirement. The farmers around here drop dead in their fields, or on their tractors or in their damn milk barns, workin’ till the day they die.”

He shook his head. “Ain’t that what you want on your gravestone?"

And, lastly, Nancy had her kids save me a seat at the bullfight, right in the front row. I've written Nancy a bit part in the book, doing what she does in real life: running the concessions at the bullfights.

I'd also like to thank my main beta reader, Jay Krow, for his valuable insight and suggestions. He pointed out the bull probably didn't macerate the matador's liver when he ran him through with his horn. The bull likely lacerated it.

I wrote the entire novel in Scrivener for Windows. Well, I compiled it in Scrivener. I wrote some of it on my iPad. I'll post about it some time.

DEATH OF A MATADOR is on sale for $2.99 through the end of next week, a day or two after the election is over. My other two novels are also on sale for $2.99. Regular price is $5.99.

I hope you enjoy the book. It's a great story.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Magazine or Clip?

When investigating whether or not to download a free ebook I came across an interesting review. (I can't recall the book's title.) The reviewer claimed the author used the word "clip" when he should have used "magazine," and went on to explain the difference. This "mistake" bothered the reviewer so much she couldn't enjoy the book. (Evidently the term "clip" was used quite a bit.)

When entering some edits from a couple of beta readers, I noticed I used the term "clip" twice in DEATH OF A MATADOR. Well, I didn't want to offend any readers so I thought I would do a little investigating of my own. This is what I learned.

A "clip" is a gadget that holds bullets until they can be moved into a magazine. A "magazine" holds bullets in position so they can be automatically loaded into the weapon's firing chamber. So, there is a difference.

It's a big deal to gun people!
However, my source, Wikipedia, says the terms have been used interchangeably in movies, TV, and novels for so many years that several dictionaries have altered their definition of "clip" to account for its common usage.

In other words, people who watch movies and TV would likely be okay with an author using "clip" instead of "magazine" in a novel. Most, myself included prior to this experience, don't know the difference. Or even knew there was a difference.

Several things can be learned here:
  1. Language is fluid. Words can change meaning based on their common usage.
  2. If you're an author and like to be as accurate as you can, do a little research on the words you use. I had used "macerate" in DEATH OF A MATADOR when "lacerate" was the correct word. I doubt the bull had time to marinate the matador's liver in vinegar prior to tearing it apart with his horns.
  3. If you're an author who is anal about things like "clip" and "magazine," and you're writing a review for a book that includes one or both of those terms, do some research before you let something as trivial as this dominate your review. Based on common usage, either term can be used without calling in the lawyers.
Here is are a couple of paragraphs from DEATH OF A MATADOR:
Dillard applied the finishing touches to his own uniform, in his hotel room in Turlock.
He checked the time, then checked his gun, removing the magazine to inspect it, reinserting it, flicking the safety on and off. Satisfied it would fire when he wanted it to, he placed it back in the hidden compartment in the camera bag.
Now picture the text with "clip" instead of "magazine." Does it ruin it for you? Maybe it does now that you know there is a difference!

 If you like words, consider Stan Carey's excellent blog.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


DEATH OF A MATADOR, my new Grant Starr thriller, is set to release, in ebook form, on October 16 on Amazon. I'm in the final stages of editing and formatting for the ebook, and I have what I think will be my book cover.

Like my first two novels, CANALS and THE MIGHTY T, the cover image was created on MicroSoft Publisher. It's not real fancy but I think it's not too bad for a do-it-yourself job by a guy who doesn't own a true graphics program.

Much has been written about the importance of book covers these days. If you look at the covers of most of the "classic" novels, they're plain by today's standards. I think this cover has enough bold elements to capture a potential reader's attention for a few seconds.

The cover typeface is Quartet, designed by Suzana Licko.  I bought it from Emigre back in the early-to-mid 90s, but after a quick check on their site I see they no longer sell it. I've read it's important to use typefaces you own, meaning you paid for them. I've also read you shouldn't use typefaces that come with your computer, like the MicroSoft typefaces on my new Dell Windows 7 machine. I don't know if this is true or not, but all the typefaces I've used in designed my books are ones I've purchased.

What do you think? Honest opinions are appreciated.

Update: October 15, 2012

The more I looked at the above cover, the less I liked it. So I've come up  with this one:

I took the photo at a bullfight I attended in Central California, so I own it's rights free and clear. I think this cover have better graphic elements than the first, although the first may be bolder.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Two New Reviews for The Mighty T

I recently received two new reviews for The Mighty T on Amazon. I don't know either of the reviewers, although one is an author. We recently followed each other on Twitter, but you know how that goes. I have 3,700 or so followers.

Review one (5 stars):
A really good detective thriller. Enjoyable setting, fun protagonists, and really nasty villains.
The setting in the San Joaquin Valley was well done and unique in my reading experience. Powers seems to know it well.
Grant Starr, Benson and Amber are a well matched team featuring brains, humor, and a bit of sexual tension. A cop who drives a Ferrari because he is an investment whiz is also interesting and unique.
I said the villains were nasty, but sometimes I felt sorry for them and their situation. There was an intense mix with varying motivations.
The suspense and tension kept me reading much later than I should have. It is an absorbing read with a realistic, unusual plot.
C.M. Lance
author of Wizard Dawning

Review two (4 stars):
This book had my attention from the first paragraph, then tossed me aside in the final chapter. I was thinking 5 all the way to the end. Reading this book is like building a mansion and then failing to paint it. Why waste so much effort in creating characters, building tension, crafting a plot and then quitting? It's like a great teacher resigns and lets a student conduct the last week of school.
I have to admit I'm puzzled by this review. The ending of The Mighty T was full of tension and suspense. I don't know the reviewer meant by "quitting." I certainly didn't quit.

Unless the reviewer wanted the second dam blown up.

Perhaps he or she was referring to the final wrap-up pages where I detail what happened to the Hetch Hetchy Valley after Lightfoot blew up the O'Shaughnessy Dam.

In any event, I appreciate the reviews and feedback I've received recently. I'll take a four-star review any day of the week.