Saturday, October 1, 2016

Creating An Audio Book - "The Case of the Running Bag" a Jonas Watcher Detective Adventure

In The Begining...

I had considered reading my own book, and I may yet one day, but I just don't have the time as a new author. That is a bit of a stretch to say new author, I have been writing for over forty years. I have only been actively writing mystery novels since 2014. Actually they are better described as detective adventure novels circa 1930. Getting into the world of self publishing was a decision based upon expediency. Egotistically I believe I write novels that are worthy of publication and I have had a number of professionals that agree with me. Since I am an old fart I decided to publish on my own. But what does that have to do with reading my own book? As a self published author I thought I might produce audiobooks of my novels all on my own. As I said, I dont have the time. More on that later.

Life As a Self Publishing Amatuer

Jonas Watcher looking over the sholder of his creator
Make sure you grt this part right!
Currently I have three books on Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, iTunes, Kobo and other internet sites.
The first book, "The Case of the Running Bag" was originally published in 2014. I spent some time trying to figure how to market it, while I was writing my second book, "The Case of the Bourbon Street Hustler". The second book was published in 2015. I focused upon paperbacks, because that is what I knew. I like reading a book in my hands and although I created eBooks, I ignored any attempt at marketing them, because I didn't know how. I had some minor success with paperbacks, but the truth is unless one is published by a major or minor recognized publisher, the paperback market is limited to what one can peddle on their own. No way to make a living. Unfortunately, in 2015 I was still focussed on paperbacks and writing. I started "The Case of the Jade Dragon" that summer and published it the next spring.

With three books under my belt, I thought I might get some recognition, wrong! 2016 brought a jewel into my life, actually two, though both would probably want to be refered to something other than a piece of carbon that has been under preasure for a couple of million years. Peter and Pete came into my life about the middle of the year. Peter is a Copy Editor and much more, and Pete is an excellent Narrator who works through ACX. While working with Peter he discovered a class in DIY authors learning how to market their books. While I am just starting the course I am learning how to focus on the eBook marketplace. I will have more about that in later posts.

The one big move for me was to look into how to create an audiobook. Peter introduced me to Pete and I provided him with a copy of my first novel in the series. He liked it and said he would be happy to take it on as a project through ACX when he finished his latest project. I looked into ACX while I waited for Pete to be available.

ACX Does Make It Easy
The Case of The Running Bag
I don't know if there are any other sites to create audiobooks, but I am sure there are. ACX is pretty simple and in a couple of areas that are not very intuitional it is easy to contact them and get the information to create an audiobook. You can use a narrator/producer or narrate it yourself.

You can arrange to pay your narrator a flat fee of you can do royality sharing. You get a fifteen minute test run which you can work with the narrator so it sounds the way you want. Afterwards the narrator will complete the final product within an agreed to timeframe. When the narrator finishes you get to review the final product and approve it or again work with the narrator to fix so that you get the product you are looking for. Communication with your narrator is really important. I was lucky. Pete grasped the narrative at the get go and while we talked a bit about the book, he and I were on the same wave length.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Mysteries of the Noir Detective Stories

A writer with a Copy Editor

Once I started mystery Novels, I had a lot of people who wanted to offer advice. A lot of it was good and a lot of it was just different. The one thing I definitely needed was a copy editor. I was fortunate to get two. They have been great in helping me fine tune my writing. If you are interested in finding a good copy editor, take a look at Grizbokkit . I use Peter to handle copy for me in advertising and of course my books. My Blog is me, warts and all. I'm sure Peter would have apoplexy if he saw what appears in my blog. 

New Book Format

“The Case of the Running Bag” Audiobook is in the final stages of production and will be released in October 2012. It is being created using ACX. While noir mysteries continue to be among the most popular books that are read, the daily commuter looks to audio books to provide the passing of time during a commute entertainment. Traveling by train or a bumpy bus ride can be a more pleasant experience as the commuter is read to. Or you can sit at home in an easy chair with a beverage of your choice and sit back and listen to the story unfold. Pet Ferrand is the narrator for "The Case of the Running Bag" and he has created an environment that is much like listening to an old radio show.

Jonas Watcher, The Case of ...

The Jonas Watcher series is a collection of novels about a private detective in the 1930s based in San Francisco. In “The Case of the Running Bag” the reader is introduced to Jonas Watcher and learns how he gets involved in an extortion, kidnapping, and murder case where he is a suspect. In order to exonerate himself, Jonas must solve the mystery behind the running bag that is literally tossed into his chest. The deeper he investigates the greater the risk to his own survival.

In the second novel, “The Case of the Bourbon Street Hustler”, Jonas Watcher travels to New Orleans because his first case still has some loose ends to tie up. The trouble is that someone wants to kill him before he ties those loose ends up. Jonas travels between New Orleans and the bayou where he learns that the most dangerous creature has two legs, not four. 

The Case of the Jade Dragon”, the third novel, Jonas rescues a Chinese couple from being kidnapped. This good deed put Jonas on a trip to St. Louis to bring back a bride for an arranged marriage. Someone wants the wedding stopped and will do whatever it takes including killing Jonas. He uses trains, planes, and automobiles to pull off the impossible and bring the Azure Dragon home.

The audio book for “The Case of the Bourbon Street Hustler” is going into production in October 2016 and “The Case of the Jade Dragon” will follow early next year. For more information about the Jonas Watcher series and developing projects see Jonas Watcher, MyLife, and FaceBook.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Missing in Action - Independently Published Author

An Author's Journey

I wish I could say I have been reaping the rewards of being a full-time writer, but in fact, The Sisters Fate have been messing with me. If  my references to the Sisters Fate doesn't resonate with you, I might be able to help with that. First, I have finished my third book in the Jonas Watcher series and have had it published through CreateSpace and Smashwords.

The third book is "The Case of the Jade Dragon". In this story, Jonas comes to the rescue of an older Asian gentleman and his daughter. This good deed puts Jonas in the crosshairs of a number of underworld groups because he agrees to escort a bride from St.Louis to San Francisco. A gun fight on a train, A cross country flight on a dragon, a game of three car monte in SanFrancisco, and Jonas relying on his skills as a sniper won't save him from the forces after him. He must call upon the hidden talents of the Azure Dragon to bring together two feuding families steeped in ancient Chinese traditions.

Now it's back to the Sisters Fate. Not that I am going to go into details here about them. I am going to provide access to those who are interested in what I was referring to, especially if you like mysteries and detective stories. In celebration of my third book being published, I am providing a free eBook to the first Jonas Watcher adventure; "The Case of the Running Bag". I have put it out as a free book, but not all internet sites have participated. I am providing links to those participants so you can get your free copy of the eBook.

An Author's Gift

Find out how Jonas became a private detective, discover how the Sisters Fate are involved, and learn about the invisibles'

Barnes and Noble is an online bookstore "The Case of the Running Bag".

KOBO is an online bookstore "The Case of the Running Bag"

While each book is a standalone read, the sequential order is "The Case of the Running Bag", "The Case of the Bourbon Street Hustler" and "The Case of the Jade Dragon". For more information about the books and where you can but them - My Website.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Case of the Looking-Glass Mirror - An Experiment in Murder Mysteries with the Help of Lewis Carroll

Charles Dodgson with Pen in Hand
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson never wrote a detective adventure story, but I thought he might be of help for me in creating the fourth novel in the Jonas Watcher Detective Adventure Series. I chose Through The Looking-Glass for the template for my novel because it was the lesser known of the two Alice in Wonderland stories. Additionally, it contained characters that could act as blueprints and it had "a most marvelous" villain in the form of  the Jabberwocky. My only obstacle was to be sure that I committed no plagiarism. This was actually quite easy because Through The Looking-Glass is to be used as a template not to be copied but a reference.

Gene Poscham and Company

I already had my title, and oddly enough I hadn't gotten it from The novel by Lewis Carroll, but from another author; Agatha Christie. The title came from her novel, The Mirror Cracked. I must confess the original title for the fourth book started out as The Case of The Broken Mirror, but it wasn't quite working for me. While I was musing about the novel and looking for inspiration I was staring at my bookcase. No need to guess, I spotted one of my three copies of  Through The Looking-Glass And What Alice Found There and the idea for the fourth novel leaped out at me. 

My first task was to start building my outline for what has become The Case of the Looking-Glass Mirror.  I chose the double reference to the same object because I decided to use that concept throughout the book. The question is can I make consistence use of the concept without making the storyline seem artificial. I took a look at the Table of Contents of Through The Looking-Glass as I prepared my outline. 

Through The Looking-Glass

Outline for 
The Case of the Looking-Glass Mirror

Chapter 1 - Those in Glass Houses
Chapter 2 - A Conservatory Garden
Chapter 3 - A Bespectacled Entomologist
Chapter 4 – Welcome to My Parlor
Chapter 5 – Twins in The Forbidden City
Chapter 6 - The Sheppard's Asylum
Chapter 7 - One for Professor Unoeuf
Chapter 8 - Lieutenant Lyon in search of a Unicorn
Chapter 9 - A Paladin in the Night
Chapter 10 – Return to the Glass House
Chapter 11 – A Return to Sanity

As you can see that while I used the table of contents as a blueprint, I didn't duplicate it but rather used it for inspiration. Some of the titles of the outline will survive and become book chapters and some will be altered as I write the book. I am sure that most chapter titles will show an obvious connection to Through The Looking-Glass and others will be more difficult to ascertain where the hell they came from. For now, trust me, there is a connection, however tenuous. At the writing of this post, I have completed Chapter 5 in the outline and I am working on Chapter 6.

Jonas Watcher in
The Case of
the Looking-Glass Mirror
For the overall story, I have established the tie in to the murders, and a number of the story elements that will be carried throughout the book are defined. I now just remains for me to finish the outline and get started writing the novel. I will leave you with a possible image that I am considering for the book cover.  It is very tenuous at this time. I do like the color scheme, and the references to Through The Looking_Glass but I have just started and as I work on the story other images will come to me and I will try them out. Part of the fun of writing a novel in the research is that while I search the web for information, I also search it with the same terms, but I look at images and videos. They too are a great source for ideas when writing a novel and with coming up with a plot for my next novel. Of course for me at this time, I am working on book 4 of the series and I have three or four more waiting in the wings.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Case of the Jade Dragon - Have Gun Will Travel

Tales from the Bayou
After I finished The Case of the Bourbon Street Hustler I had already decided the next story would be based upon a scene from the television series Have Gun Will Travel. While Jonas has some characteristics of Paladin, he is by no means the same character. Both men are for hire, and both live in San Francisco, and they both travel about the United States on assignments. There could be more similarities, but there are a dozen other characters that share similar storylines. Jonas is younger and from a different era.

China Town
For this specific story, the genesis comes from a story where Paladin helps out an elder Chinese gentleman and his daughter at the beginning of an episode. There the similarity ends. This is another case of myThe Case of the Jade Dragon was born. I spent a fair amount of time researching Trains in the 1930s, where they went, what thy were called and the passenger accommodations. I also returned to San Francisco, which I was familiar with from The Case of the Running Bag. I introduced the invisibles in the first book and utilized them in my second book The Case of the Bourbon Street Hustler. In the third book, I wanted to expand upon the development of these characters and strengthen their presence in the series. I should acknowledge Arthur Conan Doyle for the existence of the invisibles as they were derived from the Baker Street Irregulars.
Hop Alley?

I researched the Chinese community in both San Francisco and St Louis. I discovered the history of Hop Alley in St Louis and the discrimination that was perpetrated upon the Chinese in both cities. ChinaTown in San Francisco was much more developed that St Louis and continues to survive today while Hop Alley has all but disappeared from St Louis. I also did a fair amount of research on the mythology of China, and discovered that in is quite varied depending upon the provinces studied.

Admittedly I adapted events in Chinese history and integrated some of my own elements into the mythology I presented in the story. The book is after all fiction. I did take real events and adjusted them for my own use. The families are real enough, the feud was real, but the rest is my fiction.

I used a plane trip on the return from St. Louis to San Francisco. The plane used, the De Havilland Dragon, was quite real and was one of many used as airlines begin to build themselves up. The descriptions of the early airports are fairly accurate also. As I developed the story, it was amazing how many elements just fit together as I was doing research.
The Dragon Flies

I have published The Case of the Jade Dragon and released it for public consumption. As I finish the outline to The Case of The Looking Glass Mirror, I have started writing the fourth book. This venture is a bit of a diversion for me as I am adapting the outline based upon the structure in another book and not using any of the books published material. Travel through the mirrored images of who done its of the fourth book; the next post in this series.

The Bourbon Street Hustler - The Second Novel Born From What Next?

I was still writing The Case of the Running Bag when I realized that Jonas Watcher was going to be more than a single novel character. I had a number of stories floating in the ether of my mind when I recognized that Jonas would be the character to bring all the stories together. It was happenstance that I chose the era of the 1930s to tell the story of the Running Bag in. I had always been a fan of films of detective stories from that era and while I had a Hollywood idea of the period I had no first-hand information. It was then that I remembered reading somewhere that if one wanted to get a better look into a period, that detective mysteries and adventures provided the best window into a time period.
Where's the Bridge?

I started reading more writers that wrote in the period and I started doing more research into the thirties and forties. I realized that I would have to take my research back into the roaring twenties and take a more definitive view of World War I. These were the periods that made the thirties and forties what they were. Research became more focused on the microcosm of the location I was writing about. It was necessary to fine tune not only to a time but a specific place in time to keep from being a full-time researcher. After all, my intention was to write detective stories circa 1930s, not a history of the world. Still, I would have to take side trips in research to import an element that I wanted to employ within the story.

The Bourbon Street Hustler
I have always wanted to go to and see New Orleans, but for the time being finances prevented me from taking a journey there with my wife in the real physical world. The library and the internet became my travel guide to New Orleans of the 1930s. As I looked into the Crescent City I discovered a fascinating mixture of history, multi-integrated cultures, and politics that were distinctly Louisiana. Cajun, Creole, French, and French Canadian, Christianity and Voodoo, and mythical legends Rougarou and Vampires.

New Orleans was an author's version of a miner discovering the mother lode. I could have gotten lost in my research and ended up never getting a story told. It was then that I decided Jonas Watcher would have to make multiple trips to New Orleans. That decision let my trip my story to a single major story, but also opened the gates for a couple of sub-stories. The Case of Bourbon Street Hustler was born and I knew I would be back in New Orleans and the Bayou for more stories.

Ironically while I discovered the riches available in New Orleans, San Francisco was calling me also, and from the oddest of sources; Have Gun Will Travel.  That is the tale for telling in the next blog post. Just how that western series sent Jonas Watcher on his next case.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Case of the Running Bag - The Creation of Jonas Watcher

The Continental Op was a collection of short stories by Dashiell Hammett which defined the tough-guy private detective for generations to come. Want to write detective adventure stories this is a must read. Take the characters out and place them in another genre and you can create some credible and fascinating stories. Remember to use the as a template, don't plagiarize.

On the Dock By the Bay

I was reading a short story that involved a faithless husband and I found myself asking "What if?". The idea for a story was born and I played with it in my imagination for about a month.

I had the beginning of a novel, but I had yet to develop my private detective. I needed to come up with a way to introduce my hero and make it unique and interesting. Having my main character start out as a derelict wasn't a new idea, and I need to put him into peril immediately. I had to give his introduction something unique and interesting. Then I remembered an article I had read a long time ago.

Discrete Inquiries

A Running Bag
I had already set my time period fo the 1930's. I am a big fan of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. The article I had read had dealt with men who didn't return home after the "Great War" in Europe. The US had maintained a presence in Europe under the guise of the Provost Marshall. The men who didn't return home always had the possibility of being found out. A number of these men were in Europe legally, and a number of them were in Europe illegally. The latter group kept a "bag" that contained clothing, money, and other essentials one might need to make a quick get away. The common term became "a running bag". I now had my title, and a way to move my character forward through the story. "The Case of the Running Bag" seemed to be appropriate. Jonas spent the early part of the novel trying to extricate himself from the situation he found himself caught up in.

An Uninvited Guest

A Man in the Shadows
Everything I have been discussing has been written down in note and outline form.It is at this point that I start to create chapter titles and put down events that take place in a chapter. I am not writing yet, just sketching brief comments that might not even be full sentences yet. Occasionally a line that I like may come to me, and I will put it in quotes letting myself know at a later date that this might be a line in the book. I would start creating Chapter Titles at this point. As I created a title I would try to make such that it had more than one meaning. It might refer to an incident in the chapter, but it would also have a second meaning indicating some kind of irony, or make reference to another work of literature. I make no deliberate reference to it in the novel, but the chapter title might have a touch of foreshadowing.

Paranoia Doesn't Mean You're Wrong

Why is She Pointing That Gun at Me?
As I developed the chapters, they integrate into my outline. A chapter heading followed by a brief description of the action in the chapter. Now as it happens, I am an old fart, but not that old, I was born after the second world war, so the thirties is not a time that I have first-hand knowledge of except for what I have read in books and seen in movies. I like an element of realism in my novels and I like the genre very much. Hollywood had created an element of glamor for the period and I like to include in my story telling. This means I need to do a bit of research. I live in the San Francisco Bay area, but circa 1930, San Francisco was a very different city. To begin with at the beginning of the decade, there was no Bay Bridge or Golden Gate Bridge. Traveling from San Francisco to the east bay was a very different process. Research reveals fascinating information about the area and events. This research also helps in driving where my story will go and can affect what happens next.

After Enlightenment, You Keep Working

A Writer and  his Muse
As I do research I include comments in my outline of things that might be pertinent to the story. The potential downside in doing research is that it in itself can become so interesting that I get taken off course. I find that when that happens I have to get back to the outline and force myself to get back on track. Research will also bring in a new story idea and I have to decide in I want to include it or set it aside for another novel. A new story idea was born and I wasn't even looking for it. When an idea didn't fit in my current novel I took the time to make a note. Later if the idea appeared to have legs, I would give it a working title, and a folder of its own. Then I got back to work on "The Case of the Running Bag". During this process, I had created four additional titles.

What It's Like To Play The Palace

The Palace?
I ended up with eighteen chapter titles, some of which I have used here . While researching about San Francisco, I discovered the Palace Hotel. It will be used in a number of my novels so I did as much research as I could. There is an element of reality and fantasy in my creation and replication of The Palace. I also did a lot of image searching of the hotel. While my palace might not be a true replication of the original I hoped to include the glamor and ambiance where the famous and infamous might mingle.

Once I had my outline in place, I started telling my story. Getting it down on paper. Then I ran it through a grammar and spell checker. Then I started rewriting it. My focus at this time was totally on just this novel. It had to be to do it justice. When I was done, it went back to the grammar and spell checker and then my proofreaders. I have three who read for story, editing, and proofing. Then it comes back to me and I go over it one more time. Then one last pass by grammar and spell checker. Then it goes to CreateSpace for publishing.

My ideas came from a collection of short stories, historical articles about the period, and general research. Some ideas just happened into my imagination appearing out of the ether. Sometimes that is jut how it happens. 

Never Upset An Armed Receptionist

As for the next article in the series, "The Case of the Bourbon Street Hustler - I get to Play with History"

The Case of the Bourbon Street Hustler