Thursday, July 26, 2018

2018 Summer Newschat

Zestful Blog Post 274

2018 Summer Newschat

If you're already on my newschat list, you should have received everything in here. If you're not a newschat subscriber, I encourage you to join, because I can't post the links to the free stuff here. (You can always unsubscribe after getting the free stuff--I won't be upset.) Here's THE LINK TO NEWSCHAT SIGNUP.

Dearest Correspondent,

I’m gonna start with a list of contents, because this message is so crammed with cool stuff:

·       Free starter pack of my writing exclusively for newschat members
·       New short story collection
·       Royal Caribbean mystery writing cruise with me!
·       Florida Book Awards silver medal
·       Murder on the Beach workshop
·       Palm Springs weekend
·       Mystery writing course at Ringling College
·       Latest Writer’s Digest features
·       Calling all STARs
·       What’s next

It’s been so long between newschats because I’ve been writing free stuff exclusively for you, publishing new work, and awaiting the OK to release some incredibly exciting news. Here we go!

Free Starter Pack

I’ve created three short, complete works as exclusive giveaways for newschat members, published under my personal imprint, Spruce Park Press. They represent a healthy taste of my work, both fiction and nonfiction. The newschat signup is now automated (learning curve for me there), so any new signups will get the free stuff automatically. But for you guys, here’s the goods, with my compliments:

Deep Trouble, a Lillian Byrd novelette, stars quirky freelance journalist Lillian Byrd, whose life is never easy. It’s the first Lillian novelette I’ve ever written, and I had a lot of fun with it. Special thanks to my STAR team for pre-reading and feedback! (More about STARs later in this missive.)

Download your copy of Deep Trouble by clicking below:

Next up is a brief for writers, 9 Fast Character Hacks for Creating Vibrant, Believable Fictional People. If you’re a fiction writer hungry to improve, you’ll immediately apprehend the ideas in this piece. I use examples from the work of James Dickey, Sinclair Lewis, Judith Guest, Mark Twain, Mary Higgins Clark, and others. It’s short and sweet, and available nowhere else. (I might add that even if you’re not a writer, you’ll almost surely find the piece helpful in building your insight as a reader.)

Download your copy of 9 Fast Character Hacks by clicking below:

On to something more personal. A while back, the editor of Mystery Readers Journal asked me to contribute an original essay on being a Midwestern writer. I did so, and the piece was published in 2017 (volume 33:1). Frankly, however, I didn’t feel I fully explored everything I wanted to in that essay. So I’ve done some editing and expanding of the piece, which is here exclusively for you. While developing it, I found myself focusing on the Great Lakes, and on my father, who lived and died on the water of that immense ecosystem.

You can download your copy of The Lake Effect by clicking below:

I’m happy to give these books away. My greatest hope is that you enjoy them! And I’d like to hear your opinion of them, good or bad. And again, if you're not signed up, here's the signup to get free books.

New Short Story Collection from Spruce Park Press

If a story by Flannery O’Connor and a story by Chuck Palahniuk got together and had kids, they would be the intense, bitingly sharp tales in Go-Go Day: Four Literary Tales with a Dash of Dark. Basically, I dug as deeply into the heart of humanity as I could, crafting characters who start out knowing what they want, and end up knowing what they need. Their paths are rutted and dangerous. In “Dixon Amiss,” a lithograph pressman gets a visit from a couple of guys with a life-changing message for him. Regina, a routinely shamed student in “The Cashmere Club” has a shitty life, but seizes a chance for a strange yet comforting makeover. The manchild at the center of “West Forkton Days” teaches himself a searing lesson about chance, love, and art. And the heroine of “Go-Go Day” yearns to be doted on, yet seeks ultimate liberation on her own terms. These are stories for readers who love to think—and who love life.

Buy Go-Go Day: Four Literary Tales with a Dash of Dark by clicking below:

Royal Caribbean Mystery Writing Cruise

If you’ve been wishing to study with me in person while drinking mojitos, this is it. Royal Caribbean is partnering with Florida-based Go Travel to introduce “Forensics at Sea: Mystery Writers Cruise,” a 7-day western Caribbean cruise on Oasis of the Seas, sailing March 31-April 7, 2019 from Port Canaveral, Florida.

I must brag that I beat out dozens of other mystery authors and teachers to get selected as the instructor and writing coach. I’ll be joined by Kelly Gillis, coroner and forensic anthropologist, and Jeffry Mouer, crime scene specialist and advisor to TV’s “Forensic Files.” Is this not the coolest thing in the world? I’ll be giving an expanded version of the mystery-thriller workshop some of you have attended, which will include tips and techniques on doing research, plenty of Q&A sessions, and more. Kelly and Jeff will present all kinds of juicy material on crime scenes and forensic technique. And get this: We’re going to put together mock crime scenes for you to examine as we sail through the tropics!

Promo materials are still being developed and edited, but the cruise is live and ready to book. Rates start at $1,063 per person. Learn everything about the whole shebang—and get the early registration discount—by clicking below:

I would be so thrilled if you’d come! If you do sign up, please drop me an email, OK?

Florida Book Awards Silver Medal

I’m honored to report that the novel I released last year, Crimes in a Second Language, won the Florida Book Awards silver medal in general fiction this past spring. My beloved Marcia and I traveled to Tallahassee for the ceremony and had a great time making new friends with writers and readers. My favorite thing is knowing my subversive, profanity-laced writing is sitting on a shelf somewhere in the governor’s mansion, as well as in a display case in the library at Florida State University.

Murder on the Beach Workshop

This one’s coming right up. I’ll be teaching my “Fearless Writing” workshop at Murder on the Beach bookstore in Delray Beach on August 18. This is part of their Authors Academy series, it costs $25, and you can learn more and sign up by clicking below:

Short Story Writing in Palm Springs

The wonderful folks at the Palm Springs Writers Guild (California) have invited me for the weekend of November 3-4 this year. I’ll give a talk at their Saturday luncheon, where guests are welcome, then on Sunday I’ll do a daylong workshop on short story writing. The workshop costs $85 for members and $100 for nonmembers, and you can find out all about it by clicking below:

Mystery Writing at Ringling

Once again I’ll be serving as an adjunct professor in the creative writing department at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota. This fall term I’ll be teaching “Writing Mysteries and Thrillers,” and I’m sorry to say the class is already full. But I want to show you this cool poster produced by art students at the school. I’m sorry I can’t give credit by name at this moment.

Latest Writer’s Digest Feature Articles

I’ve been continuing writing articles for the leading writing magazine, Writer’s Digest, in my capacity as contributing editor.

A feature of mine on writing comedic characters, “Funny People,” appeared in the Comedy Issue, July/August 2018. Coming up in December will be a piece I had a great time writing, about old-school technology. Over the course of a weekend, I wrote with a quill pen, a pencil, fountain pen, ballpoint pen, and 1926 Underwood typewriter. And then I wrote about what it was like, with takeaways for writers. If you get hold of it, I’d love to hear what you think of it.

Calling all STARs

A select group of you are on my Special Team of Advance Readers. If you’d like to join, let me know. STARs get selected new work in advance, read it, and give me feedback. In return, they get my thanks and their own free finished copy of the work before anyone else. Their input on Deep Trouble was invaluable. In the (hopefully) near future, I’ll be calling all stars to read new nonfiction on writing, which will be published and for sale in series form, as well as future projects. I’m looking into more freebies and premiums for stars going forward, as well. Would you like to be a STAR? Just drop me an email.

And the Future?

I’m commencing work on
  • box sets of my fiction, and
  • a series of short books on writing, working title The Writer’s Garret series

And I’m planning new fiction (Lillian Byrd yes) and nonfiction. All for you, my dearest ones!

With thanks and love,


What do you think? To post, click below where it says '0 comments' or '2 comments' or whatever. To get these posts automatically via email, look to the right, above my bio, and subscribe there. Thanks for looking in.


  1. Yay, Crimes in a Second Language. I loved, loved, loved it!

    And now all this summer goodness from you. Happy smile for a largess of EZ!

    What I would give to write mystery!

    1. Cordia, thank you so much. Best to you always.


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