The Compleat Kepler: The Confessor

cover-smallThe Confessor

The final story in this collection is “The Confessor,” about a man in Antebellum New Orleans who is mistaken for an Episcopal priest. The man, a wine trader named Jack Lucas, does nothing to correct this perception because he recognizes the old man who wants to unburden himself. See, Jack came to America from Italy and assimilated as a way of fitting in. And he remembers tales from his youth in Tuscany of “crazy old Montressor.”

How crazy is crazy old Montressor? Well, Edgar Allen Poe wrote a story about him, “A Cask of Amontillado.” For those of you rusty on your Poe or who have never read the story, Montressor is a man explaining how he lured a man named Fortunado to his death over some perceived insult that is never explained. While reading the story, I got the impression that the slight was all in Montressor’s mind. One other question arose the last time I read it.

Who in the hell is he talking to?

What follows after the jump is the answer.

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The Compleat Winter: Hazing; Highway 101 & Bad History; Profiled

cover-smallHazing

Much of Holland Bay deals with Jessica Branson, a former Homicide detective who is exiled to the city’s most useless squad after shooting the son of a sitting mayor. Her crime? She was exonerated for the killing.

“Hazing” is the story of that killing. It’s not even central to the case. Branson and her partner, Sarah Ryland, are called out to investigate the drowning death of a fraternity pledge.One of the witnesses is Ray Kozinski, whose father is the mayor. Branson’s sergeant makes it clear: Handle Kozinski with care. When he balks, Branson and Ryland back off.

And yet Kozinski thinks Branson is quite the catch. So when he lures Branson to his parents’ home while they’re out of town, he makes his move. One lesson the mayor has not taught his son is that no means no. Another thing our young college student doesn’t understand is that attacking an armed cop can easily result in a bullet to the chest.

I wrote this story after I finished the original draft of Holland Bay. I wanted to get into Branson’s head and understand why she was where I put her and why she’s hating life at the start of the story.

Highway 101/Bad History

“Highway 101” grew out of a pair of trips I took to San Francisco several years ago. I loved the area and wanted to write a story set there. Over time, I came up with Brian Selkirk, a young convict from Ohio trying to go straight. Unfortunately, one of his former cellmates shows up wanting to know where an old biker from their prison days put a stash of money. His solution to the problem results in wiping out the life he’s built for himself in the Bay Area.

A couple of years later, Brian Thornton asked me to participate in the anthology West Coast Crime Wave. The stories would take place anywhere from San Diego to Seattle and even in Alaska. I immediately decided to revisit Brian Selkirk to find out what happened to him. Since anyone who found his car at the end of that story would think that the driver died in the crash, Selkirk would legally be dead. It’s around that time that I also came up with the idea of Loman from Road Rules taking advantage of his “death.” So Selkirk has invented “Tony Bolin” and begun building a new life, ironically with some of the people who helped him start over in San Francisco. But one person recognizes him. Sam Gouty is a corrupt former prison guard from San Quentin who is out of work and wants a job. Once again, Selkirk/Bolin’s world is shattered.

I wrote a third story that I need to revisit, but it brings closure to this storyline. For now, Selkirk/Bolin is left trying to kill Sam Gouty.

Profiled

Eddie Soroya played a large role in the original draft of Holland Bay. He still makes an appearance in the current version, but I need to trim the exploding cast of characters. Soroya was born in Iran but raised in America. In the post-9/11 era, he has a dilemma. He is Middle Eastern in a nation full of people, including people of Middle Eastern descent, suspicious of Middle Easterners. He is also in a city with a large Mexican population. A quick look in the mirror and frequent exposure to Spanish convinces him that he can “pass.” But as an assignment undercover in the city’s transit system shows, it’s not a fool-proof plan. The city’s monorail goes to the airport, so no amount of swearing in convincing Spanish is going to soothe the nerves of travelers unwilling to end their flights on the top floor of a skyscraper. It goes further than that. At the airport, he is taken down by a brother officer who doesn’t realize he’s undercover. The story is all about prejudice and, sometimes, making it worse.

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The Compleat Winter: Missing Sarah, Joey Tran, Annie

cover-smallMissing Sarah

This one was born of anger and frustration. My niece, who has always been like a daughter to me and Nita, found herself targeted by bullies at school. Back in our day, you fought back, avoided bullies, or, unfortunately, sometimes became the bully yourself, all moves to protect yourself. Back in our day, we did not have Facebook and Twitter. The phones, even the cordless ones, were connected by a wire into the wall. (I really miss those days.) Today, you can’t just avoid a bully or even fight back. They can get you in cyberspace. They can get your phone number, and while you can not answer your phone, texts still get through.

My niece took a year off from school, taking advantage of a home schooling program the state instituted for kids who, for whatever reason, cannot be on campus. However, catching the bullies proved more difficult. Once again, it’s different now than when I was a kid. If you got caught picking on a kid and making him miserable, our principal was well within his rights to box your ears, and most parents wouldn’t have batted an eyelash. But even now, when we don’t lay hands on students, there are ways to deal with offenders: Suspension, police charges, community service, all of which can humiliate an arrogant little snot for being an arrogant little snot. The school and the local police (usually pretty good for a small suburban force) sat on their hands even when presented with irrefutable proof that one boy and his friends were stalking and harassing my niece. Eventually, my brother-in-law, confronted the parents of the ringleader and his friends, which made life very difficult for what turned out to be a jilted suitor. (Hint, boys: No means no. Get over it.)

But while we tried to sort all this out, I got frustrated. I even saw one of the kids harassing my niece at the local UDF (kind of like a 7-11 here in Cincy, only cleaner.) I wanted to clock him upside the head, only 1.) I’m not a violent person, and 2.) even if I was, he was sixteen, which would most certainly mean a prison sentence. (So would an adult, but the police are going to assume both parties are guilty, giving one a possible out. I don’t recommend it without a very compelling reason.) I am, however, a writer. And writers love revenge fic.

So I amped things up a notch. What if the daughter killed herself without telling her parents why? What if the father found out after the fact who drove her to kill herself? What if, like my brother-in-law, the parents are stymied by the school and police sitting on their hands? What if the boy who caused all the trouble picks the wrong time to walk behind the father’s car?

My niece read this and got a certain ghoulish satisfaction out of it. By the time Aldo Colcagno, a high school principal who has probably had to deal with this from the school’s end, published it, my niece had moved on. She returned to school the following year and is now preparing to become a nurse. She didn’t need Uncle Jim to put the fear of God into those boys. (Her dad did a pretty good job of it without even raising his voice. He’s my favorite brother-in-law.) But she loved the fictional revenge I inflicted for her.

Yes, there’s a reason the site’s address contains the name “eviljwinter.” Mwahahahaha.

Joey Tran

Snakes on a Plane could have been the Rocky Horror of the 2000’s, but we don’t do midnight movies much anymore, except at art house theaters and on cable. Too bad, because, even though Snakes was an obviously bad movie, it did leave me with a story germ from one of its biggest plot holes.

If you try to take down a plane at any point after 9/11, aren’t you going to be branded a terrorist? They never say what happens to Eddie Kim, the gangster in the movie. So I invented Joey Tran, a Vietnamese gangster from Los Angeles who does something similar. I never say what he does to bring down a plane over the Pacific, only that the people he runs to when it fails think he was very stupid to do it.

The city of Monticello, under a different name, has been in this all along. Originally, I was going to have Tran run to Nick Kepler’s unwanted ally Nikolai Karpov for help. However, the Monticello concept was growing, so I changed the name of the Russian and moved the setting. I did not like the way it turned out. Russian gangsters are old hat in crime fiction, and I don’t look forward to having to bring back Nikolai Karpov at some point.

Then I wrote “We Be Cool” as a way to get back into Holland Bay, the still-under revision novel set in Monticello. Like “We Be Cool,” “Joey Tran” makes the relationship between drug lord Ralph Smithers and his money man, Rufus King, central to the story. Then it became easy to define Joey Tran and the anonymous men in suits who take him away for Ralph and Rufus. And suddenly, the story is no longer Snakes on a Plane fanfic. It becomes backstory for Holland Bay and its sequels. And you and I, as reader and author, know a lot more about Ralph and Rufus.

You’re welcome.

Annie

This originally was a much longer story, centering on lawyer Anne Ripley (“Standoff”). Anne I envisioned as a cynically idealistic young attorney who abandoned a career as an assistant prosecutor when the office became too toxic in that office. I wanted her to come across as tough but sexy. The original story just would not come together. I threw most of it out, but kept the predatory cop in the nearby Cincinnati suburb of Hillside.

Then I began writing from my unnamed predator’s point-of-view. He has a habit of tossing out tickets in exchange for sex. Sometimes, he just wants sex. And he thinks nothing of using his badge to get it. So when he decides to pull this on Anne Ripley, he learns to late that one of his victims has set him up. Near the end of this story, he mentions Mt. Washington, the town where Ed Morgan from “Righteous Kill” is sergeant. At this point, I had abandoned the idea of an Anne Ripley series and made her and her new nemesis characters in proposed series in that town.

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The Compleat Winter: Righteous Kill, Dr. Ralph, We Be Cool

cover-smallRighteous Kill

Shortly after my divorce, I came into possession of the condo my ex and I purchased. Originally, Nita and I were going to live there, but the drive to her work and the school system for AJ just did not work out. So we moved back to the city. Since I bought the house in 2007, and about 1/4 of its value disappeared in 2008, I ended up renting it out.

My tenant had just recently married and had a large blended family. This often necessitated him getting creative in paying the rent the first six months or so he lived there. (Always, except once, on time.) Occasionally, this meant I took the rent in cash. One day, I drove over to collect, and he asked me to follow him to the bank. So, at 8:30 on a spring night, the two of us sat driver door-to-driver door exchanging the cash. As I counted it up, I turned to him and said, “You know, it’d be really funny if a Union Township cop rolled up on us right now.” He said we’d have a helluva time explaining that this was just rent money.

A couple of weeks later, the joke became the germ of an idea tied to an aborted novel I never wrote. It was set in a fictional version of Mt. Washington, a neighborhood of Cincinnati that many think is actually a separate town. In my proposed novel, it actually was, its police chief an alcoholic man by the name of Tom Jefferson. Ed Morgan is his corrupt sergeant who lusts after Jefferson’s job. I thought the incident would be a good way to get into Morgan’s head by having him roll up on two people innocently exchanging cash the way my tenant and I did. The difference is that the Union Township Police, had the showed, would have given us a hard time, maybe taken us in to sort out that we were no, in fact, bad guys. Morgan would want the cash and would also know how to make it look like a legitimate shooting. I managed a couple of more stories based in Mt. Washington (“A Score for Little Dale” and “Annie”), but a full-blown novel has yet to come about.

Dr. Ralph

One thing that annoys me in the medical profession is the willingness of some doctors to get pill happy. I had one prescribe an anti-depressant for weight loss. It had the opposite effect. My oral surgeon, after removing my wisdom teeth, handed me a big bottle of Vicodin. That one was understandable, but I was on Advil by the end of the day. Most doctors I’ve had, though, usually are skittish about prescribing pills. It’s their practice, not the pharmaceutical rep’s.

But there is a whole industry around pushing the latest prescription on people. Witness commercials that tell you to ask your doctor about some new wonder drug, but don’t tell you what it’s for. “Doctor, the man on television says I need Dammitall.” “That’s nice, Jim. Did the man on television mention that it’s for menstrual cramps?”

But how far is a doctor willing to go? The prescription pain killer epidemic of just a couple of years ago shows that some people with a license to practice medicine may not be as scrupulous as their Hippocratic Oaths demand.

Dr. Ralph Cutter is not that bad, but bad enough. If you have a problem, and he has a solution that will get him a nice kickback, problem solved. Never mind the side effects.

The plotline to this one is pretty standard: Pretty girl lures man to his doom. Cutter is an arrogant ass who cheats on his wife and doesn’t bother hiding it very much. Trina is slim, beautiful, and a quick study in leading a man by his libido. It’s the twist at the end that sells this story. I always tried to shift the story to keep the reader off-balance, but without that ending, it would have ended up being a rehash of Double Indemnity.

We Be Cool

This is one of two stories spawned from an English composition class that I took a few years ago. It was divided into three parts: Poetry, short story, and drama. One of the assignments was to take a poem from our text and either analyze it or to write a short story based on it. I selected Gwendolyn Brooks’ “We Real Cool,” because it described the very thing that drives one of the characters in Holland Bay, a former drug dealer named Rufus King. In the novel, King is the money man for the city’s drug lord and, as a result, a very wealthy man in his own right. King craves legitimacy, but he also sees his old friend and mentor as a liability. (Hey, kind of sounds like The Wire, doesn’t it?) This story, which uses “We Real Cool” as a jumping off point and as a way to structure the story. In this story, King is about to make his bones, carrying out a killing that will earn him his boss’s eternal gratitude. King is questioning the life he’s chosen for himself and, at the end, surrenders to what he thinks is the inevitable by echoing Brooks’ closing line. “We die soon.”

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The Compleat Winter: Mind Your Manners, No Exceptions, For the Cause

cover-smallMind Your Manners

A little revenge fic for you. A woman I knew who had recently married found her ex-boyfriend’s wife trying to create some drama. She had married a coworker of mine at BigHugeCo, so I had a front row seat to the incident that sparked this story. My friend had remained on good terms with her ex-boyfriend, though it was pretty clear that ship had already sailed. The ex’s wife could not handle this. Understandable. Relationships with exes are often awkward and set a new partner on edge.

Only this woman took it to the extreme. One afternoon, my friend played a voicemail for me. “If this is the [Ron]* who married [Cindy]*, he should know his wife still calls her ex-fiancee and tells him she loves her.” As I said, I knew the wife. I also knew how that relationship ended. I asked “Ron” “What do you want to do about it?”

“Fly to Dallas. Smash her windshield.”

“That might get you arrested. What’s [Cindy] think?”

“Well, they’re not speaking anymore.”

“Let me handle this.”

So I wrote the story from the ex’s wife’s point-of-view. We often hear, “Don’t mess with a crazy person. They’re unpredictable.” But what if the crazy person fails to take this advice? The beauty of this story is that you can take either Greg’s side – the harassed husband drawn into the drama surrounding his wife’s ex – or Susan, who has to wonder if her man is truly faithful to her.

*Names changed to protect the innocent.

No Exceptions

Ken Bruen is responsible for this story, originally written for Dublin Noir. Paddy is an amoral Irish thug, so amoral that he thinks The Troubles were a business opportunity, not good for an Irishman. But he does have some scruples. You’re his friend if you help make him rich, and the whores he runs make him rich. So do their customers. Enter Rob Duquesne.

I based Duquesne loosely on Brad Pitt, a very handsome actor who draws cameras everywhere he goes. A lot of actors in his position tend to have a sense of entitlement. A few have a habit of taking liberties with no thought of the consequences. Hey, something goes wrong? Buy everyone off. Since this was written, we’ve had numerous celebrity and political examples: Anthony Weiner, Tiger Woods, Toronto mayor Rob Ford. They get caught. And they fall hard.

But this story has Rob Duquesne falling harder than any of those people. It starts out with Paddy wanting to know why Duquesne beat up the lovely Russian woman sent to service him. After all, an unhappy customer is bad business. But then Duquesne damaged the goods. By marring her appearance, she can’t turn tricks and earn a living. If she doesn’t earn a living, she doesn’t help make Paddy rich. If she can’t help make Paddy rich, Paddy gets upset. There are consequences.

Ironically, in the process of writing this, I started to picture Paddy as Brad Pitt. I think, if he could do a decent Irish accent, he could make a very convincing Paddy. He has some of that detached intensity Pitt showed in Fight Club.

For the Cause

Political pundits are an annoying breed. They tend to be hardliners, more interested in getting people to foam at the mouth over nothing or outright lying to stir up anger than actually accomplishing anything. Lest ye think this is solely a function of the right (who market their fire-breathing blowhards better), watch Facebook next time someone pulls a Phil Robertson. I had to unfollow a couple of people for a week until they quit posting articles on why Duck Dynasty was a harbinger of the Apocalypse.

I’ve thought like this for years. Screaming and beating your chest is not taking a stand or sticking to your principles. It’s beating your chest and screaming, usually so no one with an opposing viewpoint can get a word in edgewise. Thus, Matt Croy was born. Matt I envisioned as a left-wing Sean Hannity, only louder, meaner, and more egotistical. But what happens when Matt bites the hand that feeds him? Moreover, what happens when a powerful operative steps outside the lines to silence Matt, only to find there’s a witness?

The Compleat Winter: The Heckler, Standoff, In Collections

cover-smallThe Heckler

The second story in The Compleat Winter sprang from my year-and-a-half flirtation with standup comedy. Standup is a strange and bizarre thing that actually terrifies world champion public speakers. Not to mention it has a culture of its own that gives performers in other fields pause. One of the underlying currents in the world of standup is jealousy. Why did the audience laugh at one comic while the other bombed horribly? There is no rhyme or reason to it.

It was during my aborted standup career that I met and married a woman, Nita, who worked in radio. That field has its own culture, jealousies, and pitfalls. Also around this time, I somehow had gained an “mortal nemesis” in a writer who was, quite frankly, far more successful than I ever hoped to be. For some reason, he decided to heckle me on the back blogs under another writer’s name (whose lawyers, I assumed, did not find him as hilarious as he found himself.) A story started to form combining this incident, standup, and radio. It would be a piece of revenge fic, since I was ticked that the guy would not contact me directly (I’d only had the same public email address since the Wilson administration).

But revenge fic is a dicey thing. You often have to toss out the revenge piece to make a story work. Thus, Chris Logan was born. A popular sports radio host in this unnamed city, Logan wants to be a standup comic. One has to ask why. If you have a mortgage, a day job, and a booming career, why would you ever want to go into standup? You work for free for years, then make a pittance until you can score a gig doing corporate functions, cruises, and the college circuit. And radio hosts get to stay put for the duration of their job. Get paid more to live in one city? Sign me up! But Logan wants to be a standup. When he sees a new comer named Andy Carr, Logan can’t, for the life of him, figure out why people find Carr funny. Meanwhile, Logan is relegated to being an emcee. Now, from a business standpoint, emcee is actually a better gig than the opening act. If you’re on a three-act bill, the headliner and the feature act, either a buddy or partner of the headliner or a highly touted local, make all the money. The opener gets beer money to try and not lose the crowd the emcee just warmed up. Emcee gigs tend to be steadier and much easier. Short monologue, a couple of jokes between sets, and introduce the next act. But Logan, like so many comics, see the emcee gig as a slap.

So he starts stalking Carr. I personally have never been stalked, but I know people who have. I’ve also known a few stalkers in my day. The perfectly logical and natural reaction to stalking is fear. But what if someone does not respond with fear, nor do they appreciate the attention? What if the stalker goes too far and learns their target has a really bad temper when messed with? That’s what Chris Logan finds out by the end of the story.

I have to thank Steve Weddle at Needle for suggesting the shorter ending to this. With just a few words, Andy Carr sums up what he thinks of being Chris Logan’s mortal nemesis.

Standoff

Anne Ripley existed in another form in my earlier days, before I started writing for market. However, I did not want to leave her behind. I also wanted a strong female character to anchor a new series. (One cannot write Nick Kepler forever, and I don’t plan to.) So Anne’s past was adjusted to the present day (2001), and transplanted to Cincinnati, Ohio, where I’d lived for a decade at that point. In the 1990’s, I delivered pizza while contracting and frequently delivered in the East End neighborhood. East End was sometimes referred to derisively as “Little Appalachia.” And why not? The Appalachian foothills being in Cincinnati proper. But the neighborhood had color, history, and a kind of faded look I found interesting.

So Anne’s first story would take her to this neighborhood, looking for a girl who had come to her for help. The story has a Congressman as the main villain, but were I to write it today, I’d probably have a politician at a lower level of government, a judge or a state legislator.

When I put the collection together, I reread the final scene where Ripley talks to a reporter from the Cincinnati Post. When I moved to town, I always preferred the city’s afternoon newspaper to The Enquirer, which was always so slanted in its coverage. (Nowadays, it would look apathetic next to Fox News or MSNBC.) The Post disappeared in 2008. The Enquirer, which now does a thriving business online, has been reduced to little more than the local Weekly Shopper in print.

And Ripley? The series I planned for her never came together. So I moved her into another series that may or may not find life in the future.

In Collections

In Road Rules, Miami drug lord Julian Franco has a cold, merciless right-hand man known only as Loman. Late in the novel, Loman dies when Stan Yarazelski drives Franco’s Escalade off Savannah’s Tallmadge Bridge.

Or did he die?

A few years ago, I tried to write a sequel to Road Rules that started with Loman, appropriately banged up and looking almost like a zombie, coming out of the Savannah River. He scares the hell out of a group of college boys drinking beer along the river, then proceeds to lie low to see what happens with Franco.

That novel died. But the idea of Loman stayed with me. What if Loman stayed dead in the eyes of the law? What could a legally dead criminal get away with?

Lots. He could become a professional hit man. After all, he’s dead. Who would suspect him?

This story was my first attempt at a Loman story. I somehow hit on the idea of telling it backwards, where it becomes obvious what happens if you try to stiff the hit man on payment after a job well done. The character of Isabella also came about and was likely to be his partner had I managed a novel about him. (Still may write it. You never know.) I had plans. Isabella would use her position at a presitgious law firm to launder his money, screen clients, and seed the US and Canada with false identities. Loman would hide in, of all places, Cuba. The Cubans don’t care. As long as he doesn’t get his Yankee cooties all over their nice, clean revolutionary island, they pretty much ignore him.

The last scene takes place in a Lake Erie city called “Monticello.” What’s Monticello? I’ll get to that when I talk about a later story.

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All my books are 99 cents on Kindle this month. You have until Friday to get some Winter cheap. As opposed to winter, which we’re getting for free whether we like it or not. Get you come of that here.

The Compleat Winter: And on the Seventh Day…

cover-smallThe Compleat Winter kicks off with a story set in the same fictional city as the still-fermenting Holland Bay takes place. The decision to set the story there actually came last. The incident that inspired it took place on a frigid January morning in Cincinnati.

As I recount in the print version, I had gone into work on Saturday morning to clear my plate without the phone ringing constantly. It was only 12 degrees F outside when I left. My car was in the Fountain Square garage, which is best accessed through the Westin Hotel on Fifth Street. So I braved the cold and made my way from the late, lamented Skywalk to the Westin. Inexplicably, a street corner preacher was out, shouting at the few people venturing out downtown.

Under my arm was American Skin by Ken Bruen. I generally ignore the street corner preachers, and I have to question the sanity of someone who would go out in such weather – hatless and gloveless, no less – to deliver a message to a sparse audience more interested in getting to the next warm space than any street corner theater.

Well, he seemed to realize he had an small, apathetic audience, which made me easy to spot. “You! With the red book! You’re reading the wrong book!”

In the story (which takes place on a city square that looks suspiciously like Cleveland’s Public Square), the unnamed narrator loses his cool, walks over to the preacher, and whacks him in the face with his book, its author named for the protagonist in American Skin. In reality, I saluted him the way many of us salute those who show the courage to cut us off in traffic. I wanted to go back and take a swipe at him, but 1.) I’m not violent, 2.) I’m not anti-religious, just anti-dogma, and 3.) there was a mounted cop trotting up the street anyway.

This episode would probably have been little more than a story to tell my wife or over a few beers. But as I sat in the Westin’s lobby restaurant drinking Starbucks and restoring the circulation to my limbs, it bugged me. I was pretty good friends with Ken and knew his history. I also thought it was pretty arrogant of the man to suggest that, since I wasn’t a dogmatic asshole, that I was somehow bad. Sitting at the table, I decided it was going to become a short story. On the way to the car, it was going to end differently. Getting on the freeway home, the book’s name came to me, something someone had said to me once in much warmer situation, with the name of Ken’s main character fixing itself to the fictional author’s name. I had Stephen Blake’s backstory by the time I got home. When I sat down to write, I already decided it would be set in the same city as Holland Bay, becoming an exercise in fleshing out the city.

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All Kindle editions my books and collections are now on sale for 99 cents until the end of January. Get yourself some Winter here.

The Compleat Winter In Print And A Contest

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The free giveaway of The Compleat Winter is over, but don’t despair. All the Kindle editions of my books are on sale this month for 99 cents each. Get yours today!

More importantly, the print edition of The Compleat Winter is now available. Like The Compleat Kepler, the print edition contains a section of the stories behind the stories. It also has the advantage of never needing a battery recharge. The Compleat Winter on genuine dead trees is $10.89 in the US and £6.58 in the UK. Americans, Amazon is occasionally discounting it, $9.58 as of yesterday.

But that’s not all! Want to score your own print copy free? Want a print copy of all my books? Today’s your lucky day! I’m having a contest. What is it?

streetnight - finalTell me about this woman. Why is she lying on a sheet holding a bloody knife. Tell me about it. You can post it in the comments section here or on the contest page, to Jim Winter Fiction, or tweet it to @authorjimwinter. Contest ends Monday, January 20. I’ll pick the best idea and send the winner all 6 of my print books.

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The Compleat Winter Arrives

cover-smallTo those of you who asked, “Does he write anything besides Nick Kepler?”, first of all, what about Road Rules? Second of all, yes, there is. The Compleat Kepler features 22 decidedly non-PI stories. Some are the seeds of other series I wanted to write. A few tie into the still in-revision Holland Bay, which means you get a preview. And one owes its existence to Road Rules, featuring a character everyone assumed had died (including me.)

This week, and this week only (January 7-11), the Kindle version of The Compleat Winter is free while all my books will be on sale for 99 cents on Kindle for the month of January. The print version will be available next week, barring further technical difficulties. With the print edition will come a contest.

Read it! Love it! Find it here, here, here, and here.

Update On The Compleat Winter

cover-frontAs I have been resolving cover issues, The Compleat Winter will debut after the New Year. I’m taking a different route this time. The print edition will appear first, followed by the Kindle version. When that happens, all my titles: Road Rules, Northcoast Shakedown, Second Hand Goods, Bad Religion, and The Compleat Kepler will all be available in ebook format for 99 cents. The sale will last until February.

It’s come to my attention that Bad Religion is no longer available in print. This is a glitch with CreateSpace that “retired” the title. I reached my hand through the intrawebs and gave them a stern wag of my finger. Bad Religion is once again available in print.

The next title out of the gate will be the omnibus edition of the first three Kepler novels, The Kepler Casebook. So if you’d like to get your dose of Nick’s adventures in one place, this will be it. Look for The Kepler Casebook in March.

As for the follow-up to Bad Religion, Suicide Solution, I don’t have a time frame on it, but I’d like it to be in the summer of 2014. It depends on how the writing goes, which, as you know, can be unpredictable.