Sunday, August 18, 2013

Schism and future works

Again, too long since I've done this, but I have released my fourth novel, Schism, and it is a pivotal book in the Oak Villa franchise. Future books will be affected by some of the choices made in the book and I hope they will be for the better. I think future stories (including a short one I'm working on right now) will be less focused on organized crime and more on people. That's not to say gangs and mobsters won't be involved on some level, but not to the degree that they were.

My fifth book, which is in production, will be a departure from past works. It will be outside the Oak Villa universe, for one, and it will be a spy story and a serial novel. I don't know how many parts the book will be chopped into (four or five is my guess), but each part will likely be a 17,000-20,000 word novella. I hope to have the first part released by the time I finish the second part so I give myself a little bit of a head start. After that the books will be released every couple of weeks.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Justified: Where's Waldo?

The second episode of Justified continues to set the stage and moves the pieces forward. Secrets and confidence, as with the first episode, remain the two predominant themes in this episode. The Boyd/Billy storyline is going in an interesting direction, given Boyd's past. He was, as he stated, in the same spot as Billy in season one before events shattered his faith. Maybe Billy is what he seems to be, but this wouldn't be an Elmore Leonard story without some kind of hidden agenda, now would it? That agenda is being run by his sister. Now, they say they are brother and sister, but is that really the case? I wonder. After the Waldo twist in an earlier scene, I wouldn't be surprised if they do it again.

The "Waldo" storyline has its own unique twists and turns. We get to see Raylan and especially Art deal with the bottom of the barrel (if there is such a thing) in Kentucky and we get a few funny bits. The dead guinea pig, like all great comedic moments, is funny and disturbing at the same time. I'm still trying to figure out what exactly we're dealing with here apart from drugs. It's important enough to a semi-senile Arlo to kill over. Will it tie back to the cartel from season 1 or is there a different, more personal angle at play here? It'll be interesting to see.

Raylan is clearly not his old self and the scene with the MMA-style guy who turns out to be Lindsey's husband is a bit of a cheap cliffhanger, but nonetheless effective. I hope this story doesn't drag too long.

As for Ella Mae, she is not long for this world, but you probably already knew that. Her death will serve as the catalyst for what happens next between Billy and Boyd.

The wild card: Wynn Duffy, who makes his glorious return. He also shows the psychotic edge we'd seen in seasons 1 and 2 with an almost throwaway gesture. It is implied, a bit too obviously, that he may have a stake with Billy and his preaching. He also has a stake with the dead man Arlo killed and whatever he's hiding may be worth big money to the ever-ambitious Wynn.

The cycles keep spinning, but we shall see if it amounts to anything. One thing's for sure: The cast needs to be trimmed before the stories get stretched too thin.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Justified: Hole in the Wall

It is great to have Justified back. Catching up on season 3, my personal favorite of the seasons to date, was a real treat. Neal McDonough was a great villain and an interesting counterpoint to Raylan. Seeing him become unhinged bit by bit was an interesting development for the season in general. Some interesting storylines were also developed and left us to munch on like, for example, what had happened to Arlo at the end and going to prison for Boyd. The last scene with Winona left us with a near-perfect cliffhanger. The kind of thing, say, Elmore Leonard would have written.

A pair of themes run through the fourth season: Secrecy and confidence.

Season 4 starts with a prologue that dovetails into the main story, though that doesn’t happen until the end. It is apparently based on a real-life event. Both the prologue and the ending, needless to say, ended with a pair of shockers. We don’t know what the meaning behind the prologue is yet, but we know it is worth killing for.

It is clear that Season 4 takes place several months after Season 3. It isn’t determined when; we only have Raylan and Winona’s baby not yet being born as the basis. Just as well. Seasons 1-3 ran the gamut of about three hectic months. That’s a lot of people for Raylan to kill. He could use a few months of downtime.

He could also use money. That’s why he illegally helps an old acquaintance in Tennessee pick up a murderer in Kentucky (bounty hunting is illegal in Kentucky; who knew?). Raylan seems like his old self, but the cracks are starting to show. He’s worried about what kind of father he’s going to be and what his role will be in raising the baby with Winona.

Things, as usual, go awry and the murderer, Adair, tries to turn the tables after spending more than a day in Raylan’s trunk with a bag of burgers. How he ends up in the trunk is, I thought, a kind of sly homage to the opening chapter of Riding the Rap where he tells Adair about assholes. He also talks about self-awareness, which is a kind of watchword on the show. The two young kids who steal his car have very little and Constable Bob is maybe half a rung above them (but still a fun character). Constable Bob is the guy living off of one achievement and calling it as such is a stretch. He means well and maybe there’s a good cop in there behind all the bravado he puts on as a front and the self-doubt inside.

Meanwhile, we have more secrets and confidence stories with Boyd’s storyline. Boyd is more in control than we’ve seen since the pilot. You can tell by his voice. Gone is the oily whisper. Now he speaks with confidence and authority. He also has his share of secrets involving oxy money that his old MP buddy Colton Rose knows about. Not even Ava knows.

Ava, his partner in crime, has to deal with Ellen May, who has no confidence whatsoever and is looking for a lifeline. So of course she’ll go with the snake-handling preacher, Billy St. Cyr, who delivers quite a monologue while everyone goes into hysterics around him. It is a hoot, by the way, that the kid from Jurassic Park is the preacher. Some kind of weird full circle, isn’t it? He exudes confidence and, if nothing else, he offers it to people in a part of the country that may not have very much. They have each other, and, depending on your circumstances, that is of dubious comfort. Ellen May has a secret from season 3 with Ava and it is clear the guilt is inside her. This might be an interesting storyline.

All the storylines are interesting thus far. We know Boyd and Billy are going to square off because Boyd is losing money to this man. And, knowing Justified, Billy probably has a scam of his own going on. And then there’s Raylan, who will inevitably be drawn to the center of the web. Right now, though, he’s interested in the bag and the guy with the name “Waldo Truth.” Arlo, for his part, is interested in keeping it a secret, which leads to the gruesome finale. I enjoyed the literary references and thought it was interesting the guy Arlo murders was mentioning Alan Furst, a prominent spy novelist. Secrets and confidence. That’s the baseline for the season. What next? One down, twelve to go, but it is clear that season 4 will be quite different from the first three seasons.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sideswipe (An Oak Villa Novel)

Well, it was been way too long since I did one of these. Part of that was my personal life being the usual chaos, and part of it was working on my third novel, which went through a multitude of changes before becoming the short Oak Villa novel Sideswipe. I don't think it was at all what I had in mind when I began production, but then they never are.

And the description from Amazon follows:

Richie Herrick, looking to become the dominant drug force in Oak Villa's Mafia-controlled North Central region, puts together a crew to knock over a cargo terminal in Northwest Indiana holding hundreds of thousands of dollars. His crew: Francis Burnham, Damian Stoller, and Jack Timmons, are ready to go, and make some money for their tenuous and uncertain futures, but they have their own problems to contend with. Problems that could make an easy score turn into a nightmare for everyone...

Link to Amazon page:

On another note, I will be blogging about Justified season 4 with regularity and will do my best to keep you up to date on what is happening with my fourth book. All I can say right now is that it will not be set in the Oak Villa universe. It will be a separate series that I have been formulating for some time.

I do have a fourth Oak Villa book in the pipeline, though. It is tentatively called Brothers and will focus on the Red Devils gang that was featured in a supporting role in Coercion and Avarice.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Two new novellas

A special treat today. I have released two novellas--both set in the Oak Villa universe. Though the first, Carpetbagger, is a kind of a stretch since 95% of the story is actually set outside of Oak Villa. Nevertheless, it features characters from that universe and it has a direct impact on future events. Retribution is also set in the same universe, though it involves a brand-new cast of characters. Both are $1.99.

Here are links to their respective Amazon pages:



And here are the covers:

First, Carpetbagger:

And here's Retribution:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Conduit cover

My first novella, Conduit, is the latest story in the Oak Villa series. Like Coercion and Avarice before it, you need not have read the others to enjoy this story. My plan is to have pretty much every story be self-contained in its own right. That doesn't preceding stories don't have an impact; they do, but often times they have a greater impact on minor characters than on the main characters.

Conduit revolves around an ambitious Narcotics cop and a young drug dealer and is set in the middle of summer 2012 in Oak Villa. And though I don't make mention of it in the story, I am sure the temperature there is boiling like it is in Chicago right now. Today will be the first time in seven years the mercury is going to pass 100 degrees.

Here is the cover for Conduit. It is on sale for $1.99 for Kindle only. I hope to submit the story to the Kindle Singles program in a week or two.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Avarice released

Avarice, the second novel in my Oak Villa Series, is officially live and ready to be sold on the Kindle. Any support you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Click here if you have any interest.