Monday, July 21, 2014

Hangman#1 by Jack Badelaire -- Great Beach Read

If you're looking for a quick, entertaining read for anytime, and like high-octane thrills and shoot-em-up action, look no further than Jack Badelaire's latest, Hangman#1: San Francisco Slaughter.

Here he serves up another adventure in the Lynch Saga (if I may call it that) featuring, this time, Jamie Lynch, whom you might remember from a bit part in Jack's other book, Killer Instincts. This time he gets his own adventure, fresh from Vietnam and bored with beach life, so he makes a call and gets a job as a trouble shooter for a high-tech firm in San Francisco.

Set in the 1970s, Jack captures the time and place fairly well for somebody who didn't live there. I should know--I do live there, and did so in the years following he setting of the book but not much had changed. I recognized many landmarks and descriptions that really brought the place to life as much as my fuzzy recollection allowed. That was a nice touch.

Jaime works with another merc/soldier/lone gunman named Richard (there's a mystery about him) as the pair race to discover the location of a missing engineer who knows way too much; along the way they tangle with gangsters and the usual assortment of no goodniks. A few twists and turns and you have an excellent action story that doesn't demand much brain work on your part. That's a good thing. It's perfect for the beach or your back patio after work, a cold one or cigar in one hand and this ebook in the other. (That's how I enjoyed it, by the way.) It's also available in paperback.

Jack writes in a crisp style that reminds me of Jack Higgins' early work, and that's a good thing, too. I'm not a guy who likes to read a lot of words, especially the useless words writers often throw in for color. That crispness really let the story shine and it moves along at a quick pace. Nothing boring here, but how will Jamie and Friends come back for more? They part ways at the end of this story, so I guess we'll have to be surprised when book two comes out and we pick up where this left off. I think I know what Jack has in mind and I'm eager to see if I'm right.

Give Hangman #1: San Francisco Slaughter a look. I think you'll like it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Free Book for Reviews

Hi, everybody--

I'd like to give you a free book in exchange for a review, good or bad. So, if you'd like to read either The Rogue Gentleman or its sequel, Mine to Avenge, please email me at briandrake88 at yahoo dot com and I will send you a copy for your Kindle. I don't have it available in other formats right now, since I did the KDP exclusive thing, which I'm still not totally sold on, but I can get you a PDF. Thanks!



Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Rogue Gentleman Returns!

I have just released The Rogue Gentleman: Mine to Avenge, the sequel to The Rogue Gentleman which has (reportedly) thrilled readers very much. Thanks for looking!



A desperate SOS from an old friend sends Steve Dane to the rescue only to find that he's too late. Tom Wexler is dead and the stolen Iraqi antiquities he and others were trying to recover are gone again.

With Nina Talikova by his side, Dane is determined to find out who killed his friend and restore a nation's history. But the game board is not in his favor, and when the checkmate comes Dane discovers that his ememies were once allies who know every move he'll make.

In a winner-take-all contest against the toughest odds the Rogue Gentleman has ever faced, Dane goes on the offensive, not knowing if it will be good enough to save anything--the treasures, Nina, or his own life.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Challenge Accepted!

It's all Jack Badelaire's fault.

Back in December, my fellow indie scribe posted this challenge on his blog, where he expressed his idea that, if a writer puts his rear end in a chair and types steadily, said writer could produce a significant body of work in 2014.

Being a masochist, as I've communicated elsewhere on my humble page, immediately began to develop the necessary strategery so I could take this on and see if I could meet Jack's goal of four stories by January 2015.

That lead me to:

1) outline two more Wolf stories to go along with the five already out.

2) create a new spy series and outline four episodes projected at 50,000 words each.

The outlines are all done; in fact, the first of the spy series is finished, and it only took two months. Fifty thousand words in two months. Wow. Butt in chair = produced pages. Soon it goes to my editor.

One down, five projects to go. Eight months. Two months per book and I'm done before Christmas and the spy books alone will ring it at 200,000 words total. That's a heck of a lot of words. The two Wolf stories will add, probably, another 30,000, respectively.

I'm insane.

Challenge accepted, Jack! And well underway. . . .

Saturday, April 5, 2014

How I Met Your Mother--Thoughts on the Finale

I know I'm almost a week late on this, but I have to admit it has taken me this long to process the end of How I Met Your Mother, and not just for my own thoughts on the conclusion. There have been a variety of reactions, a lot of them negative. Some of the opposing comments have merit, but what we are seeing here is a rejection of old Hollywood stereotypes while the audience very much wanted to hold to those stereotypes.

The adventures of Ted Mosby and his friends were always entertaining, very funny, and poignant. It was hard for me not to identify with Ted, who had the worse luck when it came to ladies, and only wanted to settle down and make something of his life. As his friends settled and moved on, he was left in the cold, and, boy, I've been there. A lot of us have been there. That's what made the show so good. We could see ourselves in those characters.

(SPOILERS BELOW)

The object of the show appeared to be Ted's romantic quest. The writers spent nine years showing us, through Ted's narration, how he met his children's mother, and we all expected "the meeting" to mark the end of the show. It did, and it didn't. In the end we find that the mother has passed away, and the point of the story is, basically, Ted asking his kids if it's OK for him to start dating again.

This is not the ending we expected.

But it's the ending the show deserved.

All throughout the show we've had hints that Ted would end up with Robin, whom he actively chased through the years, but ultimately (wait for it!) lost to his friend Barney, when Robin and Barney finally married. There have also been clues that the mother was dead and Ted was, for some reason, relating the story to his kids long after the fact. The internet was full of conspiracy theories describing that scenario. Not everybody believed them.

But then Robin and Barney divorced. That's not the ending we were expecting. But it's the ending their story deserved.

So, as time went on, Ted was alone and raising his kids, and Robin was alone and working her fancy TV job, and, eventually, they reconnected and, we assume, lived happily ever after.

Ultimately it's a sad story. Ted spends a long time looking for his wife, only to lose her. That's not a Hollywood fairytale ending. I think most of the audience was expecting the fairytale. Hollywood has trained us to expect that.

But Bays and Thomas, the show's creators, put a twist on that fairytale and upended decades of Hollywood trite.

The mother wasn't supposed to die, and Ted wasn't supposed to end up with Robin. That's how many think the show should have ended.

Reality throws a monkey wrench into that, however. In real life, people change; couples divorce; spouses die; and people carry on. Widows and widowers debate over whether or not it's OK to date again, and sometimes they're encouraged to "get back out there" by their children.

That's not the ending we wanted, but it's the ending the show deserved. If there has been a reason I've needed a week to process that ending, it was because it really made me think, as all great art should make one think. Life doesn't turn out the way we want or plan; nobody has a fairytale life. Generally we all have a "good enough" life, because we're always chasing a carrot. We think that when we get that carrot, we'll be happy; what ends up happening is that we find another carrot to chase, because nothing really makes us happy.

We can talk all day about how Bays and Thomas cheated the audience (many have written about that), but they'd planned the ending a long time ago, and planted clues along the way. This should not be a surprise to anybody who has paid attention.

It's the upending of the Hollywood fairytale that most people object to, I think, and it's about time we got away from that. I'm not saying break away from it entirely, because without hope people give up, and maybe fairytales provide a sense of hope not found elsewhere. Such ideas, though, create expectations that reality cannot live up to. A more balanced view is required.

While I hate to see the show end, and I would have rather it ended a different way, it was the right ending and the right message. There is no "one love of your life." There may be many. There may be none. But life goes on and you never stop looking. That, essentially, is the message of How I Met Your Mother.

Friday, April 4, 2014

INDIE SCENE: Jochem Vandersteen

Jochem Vandersteen writes very good private eye and noir fiction and is doing everything he can to get those books to a wider audience; to help a brother out, I thought we'd have a chat about what makes him tick.
 
You can check out his latest, The Death Business, on Amazon.
 
1) What is it about the private eye genre that you like? Is there something specific about that subject matter that fires your imagination more than others?
 
I like the fact you can often follow one man/woman during his investigation and life making you one with the story. I also like the fact the story doesn't get bogged down by too much procedural stuff. I like the idea of one man standing alone against crime. And I like the wisecracks so popular within the genre!
 
2) Have readers been enthusiastic about your work? How have they shared that?
 
I used to get some emails from time to time in the past from people digging my work. Now, a lot of positive comments can be found on Facebook and Goodreads which is awesome. They are the reason I write way more than the money.
 
3) What do you do to promote Noah Milano stories as well as your other work?
 
I use Facebook, some free promotions via Amazon, some interviews... But mainly I just hope people spread the word.
 
4) Tell us about one or two favorite authors who make you write better. 
 
Robert B Parker taught me how to write a fast-moving story with as little words as possible. Dennis Lehane taught me how to bring a special emotional edge to them.
 
5) What story-telling gaffes and cliches that you see other writers make do you try to avoid? 
 
I really hate over-describing stuff that will not interest the readers. I also dislike people who try to make their book 500 pages while the story could have been told in a 100. That's why I mostly write novellas.
 
6) If there is one question you'd like to be asked about your work that nobody has ever brought up, what would it be? 
 
Why do you love writing novellas instead of novels? And the answer can be found by looking at question number 5 ;-)

7) What's next for you?

Next up is a novella featuring Vance Custer, my new series character. He's a true crime writer who will investigate your case as long as he gets the book- and movie rights. It is a little less hardboiled than my Noah Milano series but still has some action and mystery as people expect from me.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Post-writing Panic

Now that I have finished the newest book, the first in a spy series under (probably) the Dean Breckenridge moniker, it is time to panic over the content of the next one, as I have no ideas right now.

Here's the part where I thrash around and decide that I can't plot my way out of a paper bag...

...think about plots I can steal from other sources and change....

....and wish I had become a dentist.

Yet in a week or so I'll have more ideas than I know what to do with.

I hope.