Saturday, September 27, 2014


Today I finished assembling ancillary materials for Tracking the Beast, the upcoming Steve Martinez mystery, and sent them (together with the developmental-edited manuscript) to my publisher, Five Star Mysteries.

The ancillaries were jacket copy, catalog copy, review quotes for the back cover, an excerpt from the novel designed to whet reader interest, and a detailed synopsis of the action for the jacket designer. All this stuff used to be done in-house at conventional publishers, but Five Star aims its wares at the library and online markets, not bookstores. It expects its authors to be more involved in the publishing process than most others are.

Word quickly came back that Tracking the Beast will go into production on Monday. The manuscript will be copy edited, the interior design of the book done, and a jacket created. Soon I'll have a publication date.

Meanwhile, here's the excerpt I plucked from the manuscript:

The jefe nodded. “Okay, Diego. Do it.”
Diego dragged the bundle to the lip of the hatch and with a firm shove dropped it into the void. A short but sharp clang rose from the steel of the hopper bottom twelve feet below.
That’s not dope, Diego thought. That would have been a thud. That’s something else. And I think I know what it is.
“That did sound funny,” the man said, as if echoing Diego’s dismay. “Better take a look down there and make sure everything’s okay.”
The jefe handed Diego the penlight. “Go on, have a look.”
Reluctantly Diego took the penlight and pointed it into the dusty interior of the car, leaning into the open hatch to see better.
“Don’t see nothing,” he said. “Wait a minute. Paper broke open. Something leak.”
As cold metal suddenly pressed into the back of his neck, Diego realized the truth, and with that epiphany his world exploded in a flash of brilliant white.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Catalog copy

The fifth Steve Martinez novel, Tracking the Beast, has survived its second pass through the hands of an editor—this time, the developmental editor (the first was the acquiring editor)—and is awaiting a third pass, this time the tender ministrations of a copy editor. Meanwhile, I am charged with producing some other stuff, such as copy for the catalog. Here is a draft:

"When the skeleton of a little girl tumbles out of a hopper car in Omaha, Porcupine County Sheriff Steve Martinez knows he has a troublesome case on his hands. The car had sat for years on a railroad siding deep in the woods of the sheriff’s bailiwick.

"The case gets even more vexing when three more bodies turn up at the siding. Two are young girls, but one is a grown man shot in the back of the head.

"After Steve and his comrades sweat the initial spadework, the heavy-footed FBI moves in, as it always does in cases of child abduction and murder.

"The Feds focus on a single Unsub they think is both rapist and killer. But when more adult bodies turn up in hopper cars elsewhere, Steve deduces that the killer—or killers—may have hired someone else to dispose of them. Catching him, Steve thinks, will lead to the truth.

"With the help of state troopers, deputies, tribal police, game wardens, the Ontario Provincial Police and even a couple of Detroit mobsters, Steve doggedly goes on the track of what the cops come to call “the Beast”—although the FBI warns him to be careful not to tread on the Feds’ toes.

"This intricate police procedural, set in the beautiful semiwilderness of Upper Michigan, involves not only a high-tech chase around Lake Superior but also the revival of a clever World War II military deception.

"In the end Steve gets his man—and an unsettling surprise."

Readers, I hope this whets your interest.

Monday, September 15, 2014

It's on the way!

Tracking the Beast, the fifth Steve Martinez novel, is now officially in the hopper at Five Star Mysteries. The contracts arrived today and immediately were signed and returned. A publication date has not yet been set, but I expect it will be sometime next spring.

Next on the agenda is a reading by the developmental editor to ferret out impossibilities and inconsistencies, then a thorough combing and shaking out by a copy editor. Meanwhile, an artist will be designing a jacket for the hardcover.

And now to return to the manuscript of the sixth novel, as yet untitled and about two-thirds done.