Talking About Writers As Characters With The Criminal Element Today


I’m over at Criminal Element today talking about one of my favorite topics, writers as characters. In addition to digging into why I’m so obsessed with this sub-genre, I list my five favorite books with writers as characters. And as if reading my witty and brilliant thoughts on this topic weren’t enough, you can join the discussion in the comments and be entered in a drawing to win a free copy of Murder Boy.

This is the opening shot in what’s going to be a pretty massive assault of online promotion for the next month. So keep checking back here and on social media to keep up-to-date on where I’ll be and what I’m talking about.

I Still Have A Lot Of Signed Copies Across The Southwest To Unload – Here’s A Bribe


Technically Murder Boy isn’t officially published until March 31 but Amazon and other online retailers have been shipping copies already. And while I love to see the photos and get the emails of people holding their copies, I have a favor to ask. I signed A LOT of copies at The Poisoned Pen and Murder by the Book and it kind of freaks me out to think about them never selling and me never being invited back again. These stores took a huge chance on a new author with a small press and I’d love to see them rewarded for it. So for the next couple of weeks if you’re thinking of buying a physical copy of Murder Boy I’d love it if you bought it from one of these two stores or my own hometown indie Aunt Agatha’s. In return, I have a few things to offer:

First, swag. I have stickers and post cards and bookmarks and cool pictures my daughter draws that I’ve been saving up. Anyone who sends me proof that you bought a copy of MB from one of these three stores will get a cool envelope from me with some surprise swag and a personal note from me.

Collectors Editions. The copies I signed at Murder by the Book are dates 3/20/15 which is a whole ten days before the official publication date. That’s kind of cool for collectors. If you still want to get your copy personalized, I’ll be at Aunt Agatha’s on April 14 and will sign and personalize any copies ordered from them prior to that. I’ll also be in quite a few times after that date to sign any orders that come in after.

Other special surprises. I’m either going to do an exclusive short story or a short essay collection to send to those who buy from these stores as well as offering a sneak preview of the second book in the series Riot Load.

So that’s the pitch. Here are the links:

Murder by the Book (713) 524-8597
The Poisoned Pen Bookstore (480) 947-2974
Aunt Agatha’s Mystery Bookstore (734)769 -1114


I Spent A Week In Heaven And It Only Cost $350


I’d love to do a full recap of my Southwest book tour with all of the details and anecdotes to really make you feel like you were there with me. But you weren’t and I was too busy/tired while I was there fully document it as I normally do so today you’ll be getting the highlights. Overall it was an amazing experience. There’s always talk that book tours aren’t worth it etc. and that’s likely true for a first novelist if the cost for the tour had been thousands of dollars. But it wasn’t. More on that in a bit.

First we had The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Arizona. This was fun because it was my very first bookstore event. I’d met the staff the night before so I felt more comfortable than I would have normally even though I showed up right in the nick of time. It was great to see Owen Laukkanon again and it was real pleasure to meet David Joy for the first time. He’s one of those great guys who makes everyone around him smarter and better looking and makes everyone feel welcome and like family.

Our talk went well, I didn’t embarrass myself too much and we sold a few books. It was almost as fun signing stock as it was signing the books people shoved in front of me. I loved it all. I did make the noob mistake of forgetting to bring in my special signing pen and the stickers I brought to giveaway, but that was the only fluke so that’s not bad. Afterward I spend a bit of time having drinks with the authors and some old friends from the crime fiction community and then I had every intention of going back and getting to bed early because I had a very early flight the next morning. Instead, I ended up hanging with some folks I went to high school with at a dive bar until way too late at night. The next morning I felt awful and wasn’t quite sure I’d make it to the airport alive. But all I needed was to buy a giant red Gatorade, eat some crackers, and throw up twice in the most disgusting gas station bathroom I’ve ever been in and I was good to go.

I was more prepared for Houston. Kind of. When my plane got in I ate at Wendy’s at the airport then Skyped with Becky and Natalie for a bit before heading to my hotel for a nap and a hot shower. I showed up early this time because I wanted a chance to browse the store before the event. Instead, the staff put me to work signing stock and pre-orders. I didn’t mind because 1) I’d remembered my special bullet pen and my swag and 2) they had me signing in the back office that smelled like books and literary glitter. That was so much fun even though my signature varied widely across the books. The event went great, even without Duane, and yet another person from my high school showed in support. Afterward we went out for dinner with the staff and authors and had a nice dinner and nice conversation and I told them all how intrigued I was by the seedy neighborhoods of Houston and, particularly, the run down peep show hut across from my hotel. I’m really the worst dinner guest ever.

Saturday I battled rain the entire day heading down to Austin where I watched SXSW fans almost get hit by cars a hundred times, had fun chatting books with Scott Montgomery at MysteryPeople, and then ate some great chili, tamales, and gumbo for lunch. On the way back to Houston I stopped at a roadside BBQ joint that was nice and rundown inside. The food was great but too expensive for the atmosphere I thought. My rented Nissan Rogue got much better gas mileage than I expected. I stopped once along a dark deserted side road to Facetime with Becky and the kids, then wondered how close I’d come to being murdered and never found but made it back to the hotel in time to finally go to bed at a decent hour and head to the airport the next morning without any assistance or vomiting.

So thanks to McKenna Jordan and everyone at Murder by the Book for really getting this whole thing started. Thanks also to the great staff at The Poisoned Pen Bookstore as well as my cousins Sandi and Paul Sutton for letting me stay with them. And finally, thanks to Jason Pinter for having faith in me and for publishing Murder Boy otherwise this whole trip would have been very awkward. Both stores have signed copies ready to go and you can click here for info and getting one for yourself.

And finally, a note on the cost. I have to admit I was a bit jealous hearing about my fellow authors being out up in hotels and chauffeured around by their publishers, but then I smacked some sense into myself and realized how incredibly lucky I was to be there. Part of that was some prudent spending and guerrilla traveling tricks. Becky and I travel quite a bit so we’re members of lots of airline and hotel clubs and AAA and keep eyes out for deal and such. So here’s the rundown of costs for this trip.

Arizona Leg:

  • Flight – $0 due to flights credits I got coming back from Bouchercon and volunteering to be bumped.
  • Hotel – $0 stayed with family
  • Rental Car – $103 due to discounts through my employer.

Texas Leg:

  • Flight – $0 due to same vouchers
  • Hotel – $97 with one free night thanks to hotel reward points
  • Rental Car – $88 with employer discounts
  • Fuel for road trip to Austin – $31.00

Meals and such were another $30 or so giving us a total cost of about $350. Not bad for four days halfway across the country to sign at two of the biggest mystery book stores around. I also spent another $150 on books between all three stores and technically that’s a business expense but it’s not like I wouldn’t have bought these books otherwise.

This Picture From My Hotel In Houston Is All You Should Expect From Me For A While



Hey, I made it to Houston. I’m staying at the Hampton Inn by the airport and it’s RIGHT by the airport and sounds as such. But I’m so tired it won’t matter. I wouldn’t expect anything else in the way of commentary until Monday. I’m shocked how hard reliable WiFi is to find in Texas. If you are so very interested in my goings about until then, you can find me running up my data plan on my cell phone at Twitter and Facebook

Pre-Gaming My Event Last Night


I got into Arizona a day early so I could go to the Poisoned Pen and see Dennis Lehane. It went well, he’s a great speaker (They recorded the event and you can see it here)and I got a signed book without embarrassing myself. I was carrying a copy of Murder Boy around looking for the right opportunity to give it to him, but that chance never presented itself and I kind of regret not doing it, but also I’m happy not to have embarrassed myself. That photo above is the first thing I saw when I entered the store. It’s on a wall of authors who are doing events at the store and it was the first time I’ve seen my books on the shelf in a book store.

Another great highlight of the evening was getting to hang out a bit with the PP crew. I had a fun time discussing book covers with them and we had a fun run through the shelves comparing our favorites. I also had a chance to chat with Barbara Peters who won’t be on hand tonight for my event so I was happy to have a chance to talk to her as well.

I’m staying with my cousin out in Queen Creek and that’s been fun too. It’s less lonely than a hotel and I can make sure they show up for my event. I’ve spent a lot of today driving around from place to place to work because the weather is so beautiful and I love driving around with the windows down.

Tonight is going to be insane though and I’m trying to keep my nerves and energy level under control. Luckily I have lots of writing and editing to keep me occupied, but I wanted to check in here and give a bit more depth than what can go into a FB post.

Remember That Time I Went Hand Selling To Book Stores And Met A Crime Fiction Legend And Two Of The Most Influential Book Sellers In The Midwest?

I talked about this on Facebook but not here. That’s something I need to rectify because I need to get back in the habit of doing regular posting here. One, because it’s a muscle that needs to be kept fresh and active like any other muscle and I will be doing A LOT of blogging over the next month or two as the release of Murder Boy is upon us. Also, I need to do this more because I like it and I always enjoy it when I get back into it.

So anyway, while Jason and his PGW reps have been pitching the book to stores across the country, I’ve been making my own small effort to get out to the book stores in my local area and convince them to order copies of Murder Boy. I started with my local mystery store Aunt Agatha’s where I’ll be having my launch party on April 14. I then went across the street, to the new kid in town Literati Bookstore where I’d seen Kelly Link read the week before. Both stores were very encouraging and congratulated me on the publication. AA’s had already ordered a big chunk of books for the event but I found out later that Literati ordered some too.

My next stop was Nicola’s Books out on the suburban edge of Ann Arbor. I’ve seen tons of crime fiction authors read there and frequented the store when I lived on that side of Ann Arbor. After I gave the manager my pitch, I was tapped on the shoulder by a guy who congratulated me on the book and said he had been his own best sales rep as well. When I turned around I saw it was National Book Award and Edgar Award-nominated  and multiple Shamus Award-winning author Loren Estleman. Holy crap. That was cool. We chatted for a bit and then I went on my way. Then I remembered I had an extra copy of Murder Boy in my car so I ran out to get it and sprinted back into the store to give it to him. And he asked me to sign it. The very first signed copy of Murder Boy I gave out was to a living legend and one of my literary heroes. That was pretty cool. And lucky.

And speaking of lucky, while I was chatting away with Mr. Estleman, the manager of the store had been looking over the copy I’d left her and was impressed with the blurbs from Laura Lippman and Michael Koryta. She grabbed my hand and said “You have to meet Bill and Cecile.” Bill and Cecile being the new owners of Nicola’s as well as the owners of Schuler Books, one of the best indie chains ever. So I got to talk to them for a while about the book and my family and the book went from being considered for consignment at the store to being in the hands of the owners and the buyer for their entire chain. So don’t ever listen to anyone who says blurbs don’t matter.

I did have one failure with the staff of the big chain book store in Ann Arbor. I asked if they would be interested in ordering some copies and they rolled their eyes and made some excuses and then just walked away. I had better luck when I called the same chain’s store down the road from me. The person I talked to was very excited and ordered five copies for the store. She also said she’d tell the Mystery Reader’s Group about the book as well. So even in this hyper-digital crazy technical world, there are still massive rewards to be gained from good-old fashioned in-person footwork.

Some Exciting Tooth Related Dispatches



Holly finally lost her first tooth and she was very excited about it. I think she’s been feeling a bit jealous of Spenser because he started losing his teeth very early and has racked up quite a little haul from the tooth fairy. It became wiggly about a week ago and she called me up on the phone at work to tell me. After that Becky bought that little Frozen flip phone to keep around so we had something to give her from the tooth fairy when the moment arrived. Early on we did dollar bills and gold coins with Spenser, which he liked, but then he would lose the money so we switched to little toys which he seems to be getting more use out of.

It actually happened quite humorously. It was late at night and we were in the bathroom giving Natalie a bath. The bathroom is right next to the room the kids share and we heard them making a bunch of noise when they should have been asleep. Eventually they burst into the bathroom to announce that Holly had lost her first tooth. Spenser claimed he had the tooth but on further inspection all he had was a piece of styrofoam. We spent about ten minutes looking for the tooth but we couldn’t find it so I had Holly draw a picture of her tooth and write her name and the tooth fairy’s name on it and put that under her pillow instead. She believed me and it worked.

Natalie, we think, is starting to get teeth too. She’s chewing on EVERYTHING and drooling to an absurd degree. It’s very cute. Soon we will experience the hell portion of teething, but for now it’s cute. And speaking of heel and teeth, the ones Spenser hasn’t lost are costing us a ton of money. He takes great care of his teeth and eats better than most anyone in the family, but he got saddled with awful teeth. He needs root canals or fillings in almost every one of his teeth. I don’t mind paying the money for adult tooth work that will stick around, but paying this much money for teeth that will fall out in the next few years just sucks. Holly doesn’t have the same problem and has pretty clean teeth, but I suspect her time to soak us on teeth will come when she needs braces.


And on a final unrelated note, I finally played a clean F barre chord on my guitar. I’ve been working up to this for quite a while and have been trying to practice it as much as I can and it finally paid off today. I still have a looooooong way to go as it takes about ten minutes to get in and out of the formation (I can do it on the first and the fifth fret) and there’s no way I could do it on an acoustic guitar, but it’s still progress and gives me hope I can continue getting better even at my age and with my small hands.

An Easy Contest To Win A Copy Of MURDER BOY


I got my author copies of Murder Boy yesterday (you saw the video, right?) and they’re beautiful. I have several of them already earmarked, but I want to give some away as well. So here’s the contest. The first five people to contact me at and promise to write a review at, Goodreads, or their own website will receive an inscribed copy of Murder Boy.  If you promise to post that review multiple places, I’ll send along some swag and maybe even one of my daughter’s drawings.

This is a limited time contest and I reserve the right to accept up to 10 people depending on my mood.

Go. Email me. NOW!

UPDATE: The contest is over. All copies have been distributed. Thanks for playing and check back here for more giveaways soon.

Opening A Box Full Of My Dreams (And Styrofoam)

My niece is over tonight so she wanted to get in the photo. I also had Becky take a video of me opening the box that truly is humbling and takes the focus off of me. It’s not often you get to open a box full of your life long dream come to life. I suspect I’ll have more to say later, but there are a LOT of kids in this house right now and it’s hard to focus. Also, I’m in squee mode still and it’s dinner time. If the video doesn’t show up it’s because it’s still processing the edits to adjust the orientation. Check back soon. It’s worth it.

So thanks to Jason and everyone at Polis for making this happen and thanks to everyone out there who has already pre-ordered the book.

There’s still time to get in on pre-ordering a copy if you want one of these bad boys for yourself.

Barnes & Noble

Check here for info about getting signed copies.



My March Madness

This is going to be an amazing month. We have the official publication date of my first novel, Murder Boy, on March 31. But even before that, we have the Super Awesome Happy Time Pre-Launch Tour on March 19 in Scottsdale, Arizona at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore and on March 20 in Houston, Texas at Murder by the Book.


I can’t imagine a dreamier way to start a book tour. I’ve spent the last week ordering some fun promo items as well. I designed some post cards, some business cards, and, much to my surprise, some book marks. We’ll see how popular they all turn out to be.

But wait, there’s more.

Even before the book signings start, I’ll get my dream box in the mail some time this week. This is the box that contains finished copies of Murder Boy. Have I mentioned this is all very dreamy? And I’m excited.

Then, once we get the southwest taken care of, it’s time to come home for an even more exciting April. I’ll be doing local book launches for friends and family in Flint on April 11 at the Barnes and Noble, and in Ann Arbor on April 14 at Aunt Agatha’s.  And before you can catch your breath from that, I’ll be popping up in Chicago for the C2E3 comic book and entertainment extravaganza where I’ll be on a panel about humor in dark fiction. Along with the physical book tour, I’ll be popping up online at some cool places  talking about myself. Murder Boy, and even occasionally topics completely unrelated to myself or books.

So stay tuned over the next couple of months for some exciting life-changing stuff.