Thursday, February 26, 2015


That's the ISBN number, just issued, for Tracking the Beast, No. 5 in the Steve Martinez series.

That may not be earthshaking news, but it is evidence that things are progressing normally at the publisher, Five Star Mysteries. December is still the pub date.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Steve Martinez No. 6 off to the publisher

Yesterday I emailed off to my agent the electronic manuscript of the sixth novel in the Steve Martinez series, The Riddle of Billy Gibbs.

It begins with the discovery of a black veteran hanging from a tree in the forest, the victim of an apparent hate crime.

Yes, the novel treats the subject of racism, and it also has a subtext about chicanery in the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan. There is also a terrible winter and a violent summer storm, a church soup supper and a citizen complaint involving chocolate chip cookies. And more.

Send your best good thoughts that the publisher will like the novel and accept it for publication some time in 2016.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Copyedited MS. under my belt

Today the copyedited manuscript of Tracking the Beast arrived in the morning email. Four hours later I'd looked over the edits, commented on a few of them, and returned the file to Five Star Mysteries.

Seems that I got off easy. There were no snarky comments from the editor about spellings, sentences, or plots. Mostly the fixes had to do with conformation to house style. Five Star believes in the serial, or Oxford, comma. As a longtime newspaper copy editor I'm used to the other kind. Also, Five Star lower cases the names of the military services, while as the son of a Navy officer and the father of one, I habitually upper-case them without thinking.

I did get caught in one minor mistake and caught the editor in one minor mistake, so that was a wash.

Now to wait for page proofs and the jacket art, and my job will be done . . . until publication day in December, when I'll have to go out and promote the thing.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Updating "Zephyr"

In a few weeks the Lady Friend and I will embark on a ten-day trip to the West Coast aboard Amtrak's California Zephyr, subject of my 1994 book Zephyr: Tracking a Dream Across America, updated as an e-book in 2012.

The journey is in the service of still another update to see what has happened to the train and its environs in the last three years. I lost exact count some years ago, but this seems to be about the 25th or 26th trip I've taken on that train. I have yet to grow weary of the sameness.

This time I think that instead of adding still another epilogue to the book, I'll write a complete trip report in travel-writer fashion, and append that to the end.

We'll be staying overnight in Denver, where a new hotel has opened inside the grand old Denver Union Station, and in Glenwood Springs, where we will once again Take the Waters in the Hot Springs pool. We'll also stay a night in Emeryville before returning on the eastbound Zephyr.

It ought to be a nice break in the routine of mystery writing.