A New Life in Seattle

A New Life in Seattle
August, 2018

Monday, February 25, 2013

Perception, perception, perception: Part 2

Getting ebook reviews is difficult, even for an award-winning author who's been around the block. But, finally, it struck me that I had buried assets: the blurbs and reviews I'd received for four Kelley Wilde novels. Some of my colleagues are far richer in the volume of online reviews they've received. I can't compete with them, not on that score. But why not use the praise received for those 4 trad-pubbed novels?

With that in mind, I've posted this at the start of my new spring release:


One of the greatest Christmas stories ever written—but one that may never be published.
    --Agent Henry Morrison on April Yule (formerly titled White Knights)

Reb MacRath writes with wit and pace. His prose can spin in unexpected directions, or with the precision of an expert pool player can send one—smack!—right into the corner pocket. Pay attention, because in one short sentence he can dazzle, baffle, and shock you. And in a book, well, just enjoy the ride!
    --Brad Strickland on April Yule

His writing style is unique and...he writes with such depth and emotion I can't help but wonder what he'll bring to the writing world in the future.
    --Kirkus MacGowan on Nobility

Nobility ranks right up there with Oh Brother Where Art Thou, a rendition of Homer's Odyssey also set in the south. The word craft is delicate and beautiful..
    --Leila Smith on Nobility

Dazzling, visceral, heart-wrenching...A 152-page masterpiece.
    --John Logan on The Vanishing Magic of Snow

Wilde handles his ideas with wit and energy. A skilled writer has produced an engaging novel.
    --Publishers Weekly on The Suiting

Highly readable, with both laughs and chills.
    --Library Journal on The Suiting

Strongly original. One of a kind.
    --Kirkus Reviews on The Suiting

A tasty bit of modern horror with just the right touch of madness. A writer to watch.
    --The Buffalo News on The Suiting

Wilde has a flair for horrific showmanship and an instinct for the jugular that rivals the best writers of the genre.
    --John Farris on Makoto

Wilde’s style fits the story perfectly—it’s as sharp and polished as a samurai sword, and just as dangerous.
    --Rick Hautala on Makoto

One of Wilde’s particular talents is getting inside his characters’ heads. Whether it’s a dream, a cocaine high, or a slooow torture scene, his expert streams of consciousness and incredible sound effects put you right there.
    --Fangoria on Makoto

Untamed, unpredictable prose—that’s the trademark of Kelley Wilde. He writes like a bucking bronc, and each time out of the chute the Wilde man keeps improving. He’s got the moves!
    --Rex Miller on Mastery

The most unforgettable train ride since Agatha Christie booked the Orient Express.
    --Tyson Blue on Mastery

An exotic, mysterious puzzle that's impossible to put down--and impossible to forget.
    --Ray Garton on Angel Kiss

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Jim Dallas Dossier

For readers who are new to Ken McKea and the Jim Dallas mysteries, this spoiler-free primer is based on the first three entries in the series.

The real Ken McKea: Ken McKea is the pen name of Brad Strickland, a well-known and respected pro who’s pretty much done it all in the course of his 70-odd novels: from Sci-Fi to Horror to Young Adult to NonFiction…Now, finally, he’s writing the sort of fiction he love best to read.
Series inspiration: Originally, Brad had intended a series partnership with his friend Tom Fuller. Both writers loved John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee series: the complex hero, the beautifully drawn Florida settings, the impeccable balance between character development, mystery, action and theme. They envisioned an honest homage that would also remain an original spin. With the passing of Tom Fuller, Brad rewrote their first effort to bring it into line with his own growing vision.
The title game: Titling series entries is one of the great challenges. Lawrence Sanders took the Commandments and Deadly Sins. John D. Macdonald, of course, took colors. Sue Grafton grabbed the alphabet. Janet Evanovich snagged all the numbers. What was Ken McKea to do?  His solution reveals a truly clever mind at play: The first book is called Atlanta Bones; the second, Cuban Dagger; the third Eden Feint...Ken tips his hat to Grafton—but in doubling up on the letters, he signals his plan for a thirteen-part series…and promises far greater speed.
The series engine:  Jim Dallas, an Atlanta cop, nearly died roughly six years before Atlanta Bones in a house fire that claimed his wife’s life.  Cop corruption was involved—and two cops arrested, then jailed after making a sweet deal with the prosecutors.
Now retired—and working as a sometime problem-solver—Jim has burn scar tissue over thirty percent of his body and he counts the days till the cops are released—and he can have his revenge.
Cool partners: As the great McGee had his Meyer, Jim Dallas has a memorable friend in Sam Lyons. Here are the basics about them:
            Age: 35
            Height: 6’2”
            Weight: About 200 lbs.
            Hair color: Brown, bleaches to sandy-brown
            Eyes: Light brown
            Defining qualities: Badly scarred by fire on torso. Missing fingernails on right hand. He looks better than he thinks he does and, despite his scars, he is attractive to women.
            Former profession: cop
            Residence: On Cady’s Island, south of Jacksonville, in a 5-room brick cottage that had once been a lighthouse-keeper’s home. He gets to the mainland by ferry or skiff.
            Finances: Approximate annual income from pension/insurance, forty thousand range.  Plus what he might average on his cases, when he takes payment.
            Clothes: Prefers knit shirts and khakis. Well-worn dark brown Merrell sandals. Can dress up when required:  sharp gray suit, conservative tie.
            Wheels: Drives a 1986 Chevy pickup truck, beat-up and jury-rigged in places. As long as it runs, Jim’s satisfied. But the truck’s not much longer for this world, at least in the life of the series.

            Age: 48 or thereabouts.
            Height: 6’4”
            Weight: About 240 lbs.
            Hair color: black.
            Eyes: Very dark—approaching black.
            Race: A dazzling combination of Seminole/Welsh/Irish/German/Italian.
            Defining qualities: A voracious reader. Eloquent speaker and fantastic listener, able to get anyone to confide in him and cozy up. A pacifist who discovers, in Cuban Dagger, that he too has a line that must not be crossed.
            Former profession: Insurance investigator
            Residence: Beach cottage that once belonged to an 1890s railroad magnate. It’s cluttered, because he’s interested in everything and tries everything once or more, from archery to painting to photography.
            Finances: Golden parachute when he retired very young (at about 46). He is comfortably well-off.
            Clothes: Stunning assortment of loud Hawaiian shirts. Has kept one dress shirt, tie and suit from his insurance days—for weddings and funerals, he says.
            Wheels: Sam drives a deep blue Lincoln town car, the 1997 Signature edition. There’s a story behind it—he actually bought it about five years ago from the proverbial little old lady who’d put less than a thousand miles on the odometer—but that’s for a later book. Sam lavishes care on the Lincoln, and he’s much more conscientious about both cosmetic and mechanical upkeep than Jim is with his truck.

Stand-alones with continuity: Any of the first three books can be read as a stand-alone novel. McKea is a meticulous writer who knows how to take care of his readers: wherever you start in the series, you’ll be given just enough to know the gist of what’s preceded. Wherever you start, you will never feel lost.

The progression so far: Atlanta Bones begins roughly six years after the brutal murder of Jim’s wife, Susan.  He still suffers traumatic flashbacks and still suffers from shame over his scars. But not a day passes that isn’t checked off methodically on his calendar: reminding him of when the crooked cops who killed her will be released. Both copped out, and he also keeps track on their parole hearings…he has plans. But with each book Jim Dallas grows stronger and more admirable. In Eden Feint he has a moving breakthrough—when a young woman he happens to like doesn’t notice his burned hand.

 And coming soon… What can readers expect in the next 2-3 books?

Glades Heist: Jim travels to South Florida to tell a woman, politely, that he can’t help her locate her missing husband. Then before he can even begin, he’s attacked by parties unknown, badly smashed around, and before he knows it he’s on the trail of both the woman’s husband and the woman herself, who has vanished. A theft more than a decade old, never solved, enters the picture…and it’s a matter of money as well as of survival.

Islamorada Jam: Dallas has been warned not to get in any trouble down in the Keys, but inevitably, well, things happen. When a drug bust goes spectacularly wrong for the police, Dallas and Lyons are asked by their cop friend Joe Palacios to do some unofficial investigating. They’re hanging way out there—and the drug runners are unforgiving.

Kingston Loot: Pirate treasure or a big-time scam? That’s the nugget around which this adventure will form.

Monday, February 18, 2013

High Praise from Brad Strickland

The prolific Brad Strickland, author of some seventy novels, has weighed in with a wonderful quote.  I plan to use this for my spring release, but post it here in advance:

Reb MacRath writes with wit and pace. His prose can spin in unexpected directions, or with the precision of an expert pool player can send one—smack!—right into the corner pocket. Pay attention, because in one short sentence he can dazzle, baffle, and shock you. And in a book, well, just enjoy the ride!

Mondays don't get too much than this, thanks to Dr. Strickland

Friday, February 15, 2013

When We're Drafting, Lots Goes On

I've known only a couple of writers who claimed that their first drafts were their last. Supposedly, the words came as notes once did to Mozart's brain: each one perfect as it was. Or, if you will: the entire book or concert was already completed...and simply transcribed. Well, hats off to Wolfgang. But those writers were delusional if they really did believe their novels couldn't have used lots more work. A low form of genius may be a play when a writer is able to get it all down in sellable form, in one swoop. But none of those writers who boasted to me of their first draft ability produced a single novel that stood the test of time.

And why be surprised about that?  Consider how much is at play even we're working from a detailed outline:
1) Our brains are processing matters of plot, structure, pacing, character, grammar, word choice, style.
2) Our brains are also timing the release of vital info, especially in mysteries: clues that can't be delayed for too long but mustn't be revealed too quickly.
3) A daily tug of war goes between the left and right sides of our brains: the right side wants control, of course, but the left side wants us to throw in everything including the kitchen sink--so we can see what works out. If we have no control, we'll end up with a 1000 page novel we need to edit down to 300-400 pages. If we have too much control, we'll end up with a novel that has no real soul.
4) In the exhausting marathon of writing a long novel, we need to maintain our energy and keep our juices flowing. The psychology of composition becomes as important as the creative act.

Some will turn out first drafts that are cleaner and more polished. But none of should feel discouraged. Worlds are in collision, within us, when we get those first words down.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I May Semi-Unretire from Retiring from Reviewing

LinkedIn was one of those things I'd never really understood but decided to give a try. Glad I did. I received an invitation from a serious new online review journal, asking if I'd like to join their review team. I saw a terrific opportunity to review assigned books when my schedule allows...work with some cool new people...and keep one foot in both camps, trad and ebook publishing. If this works out, I may look for a way to return to other reviewing as well.

Fingers crossed. It's been a long while since I've had the pleasure of holding new galleys in my hands!


Shocking, hilarious and true-blue: how I passed myself off as a woman in order to break into print.

GIVE MY TOOTSIE ROLE A HUG is now Live on http://authorselectric.blogspot.com

You don't want to miss this one--at least if you hope to get published!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

On the Fine Art of Self-Surprise

My upcoming spring release is a short novel loaded with plot twists and tricks. Originally called White Knights, this is is the one that agent Henry Morrison once called "Perhaps the greatest Christmas story ever written--but one that can never be published." I've learned a lot about writing since then and, because of what I've learned, I'll be putting out an even better version:  cleaner, clearer, infinitely quicker in its prose.

But something astonishing happened the other night when I was revising one passage. At several points throughout the book we return to the basement, where a man lies trapped, apparently destined to drown. Now, I hadn't reread the book in some time. And I'd hidden the identity of the doomed man so carefully that I couldn't recall, to save my life, which of two men I'd placed there.

The book is now called April Yule. Revisiting, and revising, it has been a great dual adventure:  I've regained the magical sense of fun that possessed me when I wrote the book and I've discovered a new type of fun in revising to enhance the reader's pleasure at each turn. It's all about 'me' in the first draft, for most. But it's got to be all about 'you' at the end.

I think you'll get a kick out of April Yule. Coming soon. Brace yourselves: I've got a few tricks up my sleeves that top the misdirection with the poor guy in the basement.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Beat the Clock: Part Two

One day I expect to look back on this past Tuesday night as one of my life's bigger moments. I'd worked two jobs for years while battling for time as a writer. And I'd finally given notice at my second job. Tuesday was to have been my last night.

But I wasn't making the move in a decisive enough spirit. I was worrying about the lost income.  Now, I didn't want to work that last night. My main job's a night position: 7 nights on, 7 days off. And I'd have lost my full first day off, sleeping for four or five hours after a ten hour night sift, then working six hours at job #2. Plus, my part-time boss had been treating me worse by the week.. But hang on, the good part's at hand. Here it is:

I sat down with a pencil and paper, then examined the finances with a cold eye:  I figured out what I was actually making on the part-time job if I factored in cab fare from there to job #1. Then I began to strategize: How could I make more money by working just the one job? E.G.: Scrap the cab fare: $48/month. Eliminate the first morning coffee at Starbucks. Switch from $2.00 single servings of oatmeal to a box containing eight servings at $.40 apiece. Switch from 20-oz bottled waters at $1.00-$1.25 apiece to 24-bottle cases, on sale: approx.  $.10 a bottle. 

I also asked for, and received, an extra hour a day at the main job.

You get the idea. Without suffering in any way financially, I could scrap the part-time job I hated and by following my game plan, I could make about $300 more a month. I could continue to work for about 3 hours a day on my work nights and as many hours as I please on my off days. I could put on more serious speed in building an online body of work.

Back to Tuesday night: I called out and said, "That's it. I can't come back, I'm busy."  And I wrote with, at long last, a true warrior's heart. I'd escaped a dependent position. I'd flipped the bird at bad treatment. And I'd taken better ownership of my time and money.