Monday, July 9, 2018

Return to The Scene of My Crime


What happens when a relentless downpour, politics, and street gangs attack California?



I recently arrived back in California, a state that my latest book makes soggier than a wet biscuit. Deluge is my first disaster story. Usually I kill off a villain or two, but not an entire state. Without disclosing a spoiler, Deluge fits nicely in the disaster story genre, which means that the powers-that-be eventually listen to the smarty pants who keep proposing a wild scheme to save the day, or in this case, the state. Not having previously written in the genre, I had to do wide-ranging research. To my wife’s chagrin, I watched every disaster film produced in Tinsel Town.  Well, maybe not all of them, but the ones I watched ran the gamut from the still entertaining Twister, to the classic Andromeda Strain, to the recklessly realistic Sharknado. Needless to say, I had trouble sleeping for months.


Why a disaster story? Steve Dancy and his new wife insisted on being left alone for their honeymoon, so I needed to document other happenings. I always intended to do a follow-up to The Shut Mouth Society, but the sequel I have in mind requires my characters to age a bit, so they needed a transitional adventure. Now that I’ve given them one, they may not speak to me again. It should be okay. Since I’ve returned to Steve, Virginia, et al., they have time to get over being peeved.

I’m staying at my San Diego condo for three weeks. I going to do a little surfing and a lot of writing on the next Steve Dancy Tale. I plan to have the seventh in the series available by Christmas. So far, so good. I like the storyline and it has bad guys—and gals—aplenty. In the meantime, try Deluge. It’s the most adrenaline you’ll can experience while reclining in a Barcalounger.

Here’s a snippet:
Evarts did a quick reverse K-turn to get going in the opposite direction. As he accelerated down the slight incline, a rush of brown water came blowing across the road in front of him. It looked like a dozen fire hoses all sprayed in unison. If he tried to stop, he’d slide into the torrent, maybe sideways because of the slick pavement, so he pushed the gas pedal to the floorboard. Everyone except Evarts yelled as they hit the water. He gritted his teeth as he focused on timing a hard turn into the horizontal waterfall. When the water hit the truck, he had already turned into it as they blasted through the gush, emerging on the other side, the truck’s rear end swinging back and forth. Then he lost control. The truck spun around two full turns and righted itself, pointed down the road in the direction they had been heading. Lucky. He looked at his speedometer. He was rolling downhill at fifteen miles an hour. To hell with that. He punched it and they sped toward town.

The Shut Mouth Society
Deluge

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Is a Gift Card an Appropriate Gift?



My kids called to find out what I wanted for Father’s Day. When I asked for a gift card from Amazon, they said that would be impersonal. I didn’t argue, but it made me wonder why they asked.

Their response made me think about the appropriateness of gift cards. I think they’re great. If emailed, shipping costs are nil, they arrive at the speed of light, and I get to pick my own gift at the time of my choosing. What could be better?

Then I thought about it. What would be better is a present the giver enjoys giving. A gift is not one-way social exchange. Fathers used to be effusive when they received ugly ties. There was a reason. The giver was a loved one … perhaps a loved one with lousy taste, but a loved one nonetheless. You don’t make someone feel crummy because you didn’t like their gift.



That said; I’m getting an Amazon gift card for Father’s Day. How did I convince my kids? I told them I would email a thank you each time I bought a book for my Kindle. That promise overcame the biggest negative of gift cards; the giver never knows what the recipient does with it ... or if it's lying in a drawer somewhere.



Gift cards are becoming ever more popular and they are changing the ebb and flow of book sales. Print sales are best before the holiday and ebooks are better after the holiday. You can almost feel people using gift cards to load up their electronic devices.

By the way, if you expect a gift card for Father’s Day, download samples of my books now so you can decide where to spend your largess.

Honest stories filled with dishonest characters.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Excerpt from Deluge, A Disaster Novel





Greg Evarts and Patricia Baldwin are back and this time they only need to save the state of California. Here's an excerpt from the first chapter of Deluge.

Baldwin said into the phone, “Mr. Gleason, I understand. I’ll be in Sacramento first thing Tuesday morning.” After a pause, she added, “Of course, sir. Thank you.”
She tapped to end the call, turned off her phone, confirmed that it had gone dark, and then exclaimed, “Shit!”
“The lieutenant governor?” Evarts asked.
She lifted her eyeglasses slightly and let them fall back on her nose. “Yes, damn it. They’re in a panic over this damn rain. Rain, for Pete’s sake.”
“I take it they want you up there Tuesday?”
“I wish,” Baldwin answered. “The commission meets at 8:00 AM on Tuesday, meaning I leave noonish Monday, and they want me to bring a week’s worth of clothes. Damn it, I have classes, committee meetings, office hours, and a speech in Los Angeles on Thursday night.” She threw her phone onto the couch. “I wish I had never accepted the governor’s appointment.”
The governor of California had appointed Baldwin to the Seismic Safety Commission, and she had been on the advisory council for less than a year.
“I thought that commission dealt with earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes.”
“Some idiot evidently believes a few days of rain can trigger one of those. I don’t need some volunteer work to destroy my career. This is stupid.”
“It may hamper your career, but it won’t ruin it. It’s Saturday. This storm will probably pass before you sit down for your meeting. You’ll be back in time to make your speech.”
Suddenly, she asked, “What are you eating?”
He held up the chop by the bone. “Last night’s leftovers. I need protein.” He ripped off a piece of meat with bared teeth like he was ravished, and she laughed at his antics.
“Don’t we make the couple,” she said. “You walk around chewing on a bone like a caveman, and I’ve been talking to the lieutenant governor in pajamas. I’m surprised they don’t deport us back to Oxnard with the riffraff.”
“We had fun there. Maybe I can buy back my old house.”
“No, I’m good. Just frustrated that this stupid commission can jump up and disrupt my life.”
“You’ll be back soon. You know bureaucrats, always making a big thing out of nothing.”
She walked over to a sofa table and picked up her coffee. She took a sip while staring out to sea.
“Perhaps not this time. I heard fear in Paul’s voice. They got seven inches of rain in the last week.”
“Seven inches? Our drizzles haven’t added up to squat.” He thought about the implications. “Did he say if any dams were in jeopardy?”
“Yes.” She didn’t turn away from the murky, cloud-enshrouded ocean. “All of them.”

Disaster, gangs and political inertia, but that isn’t the scary part.


Monday, June 4, 2018

Deluge—New Release Now Available

Natural disaster, street gangs and political inertia … but that isn’t the scary part.
Deluge is now available in print and Kindle. This book is a little bit of a departure from my normal fare and fun to write. A traditional disaster story, Deluge will get your adrenaline going while sitting in a barcalounger.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

New James D. Best Novel on June 4th!



In 1862, a sixty-five day downpour pummeled the western United States. California suffered the brunt of the storm. Almost a third of the state was under water, roads were impassible, telegraph lines down, rivers overflowed, hundreds of people died, and hundreds of thousands of animals drowned. Sacramento remained under water for six months, forcing the state government to move to San Francisco.
Geological evidence shows that a flood of this magnitude hits California every one to two hundred years.
What if it happens again?

I took a break from Steve and his friends to write a disaster story. This one's a corker. I didn't know I could imagine such mayhem.

For Steve Dancy fans, I have started Coronado, A Steve Dancy Tale and it should be available before the end of the year.

Back to Deluge. Greg Evarts and Patricia Baldwin are back from The Shut Mouth Society. The stories are unrelated, so Deluge is not a sequel. The novels just shares the same cast and locale. The characters have changed, of course. Greg is now chief of police in Santa Barbara. Patricia is still a history professor, but has transferred from UCLA to UCSB. When the sky falls on California, our two heroes must once again save the day. There's rain, inept and ept politicians, murading street gangs, cage fighters, spies, and collapsed dams that send mountains of rolling water toward everything we hold dear.

Deluge will be available in print and Kindle formats on June 4th. Happy reading.

Can a 150-year-old conspiracy be unraveled before it’s too late?


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

How many New York minutes can you cram into nine days?




We have three grandchildren in New York City and we try to visit them as often as we can muster up the energy and coin. Let’s see, we were there nine days. In that time, we saw a Yankee’s game, celebrated our son’s birthday, celebrated our granddaughter’s birthday, watched our two grandsons play collectively ten—count them, ten—lacrosse games, saw our youngest grandson play two baseball games, watched our granddaughter perform in a school production of Pirates of Penzance, attended our grandson’s First Communion, ate innumerable meals in restaurants, and rode in countless cabs, ubers, and car services. All this, while being entertained by a new bernedoodle puppy that made the energizer bunny look languid. We even snuck in some private time to tour Radio City Music Hall on tickets we bought two years ago.



I know I forgot tons. The entire week is a blur. We’re a couple of retirees who on most days lumber from room to room to get enough exercise to laze about some more. When my wife yells that we need to go to CVS tomorrow, I mutter that she ruined my entire day. If it’s CVS and the hardware store, I get out my iPhone and schedule the chockablock activities in my calendar app.


We love New York, and we really do love all the activity, especially when the weather doesn’t mug us. This was not one of those visits. My son never leaves a Yankee game early, but in the top of the eighth, the stadium turned into the biggest icebox on the planet. A near capacity crowd was thinned to a few guys hawking sodas before the Yankees came to bat. We left our hotel in fine weather to walk to Radio City Music Hall. Halfway there, it turned blustery, cold, and wet. Us, without an umbrella or decent coats. We even entered the restaurant after our grandson’s first communion drenched, with teeth chattering. Last Saturday, the weather for the lacrosse games was perfect. Perfect. It was a trick. On Sunday we were smart enough to wear layers, but twenty wouldn’t have been enough. It went down to forty with gusts of hurricane proportions that made me understand what chilled to the bone really meant. I’ve posted recently about the springtime snow in Omaha. New York likes to do the chill bit without the pretty white fluffy stuff.

In the end, it was all good. We hit the Big Apple at the perfect time to see all three grandchildren strut their stuff, and we got in on some nifty celebrations. But we were exhausted by our last day. 

As we drove back into the city from some farm that boasted plenty of lacrosse fields, my daughter called from Omaha. She wanted to know what time we flew in that night. What’s up, I asked. Our Omaha grandson wanted to know if we could make it back in time for his Sunday evening baseball game.


Friday, April 6, 2018

The weather outside is frightful: Part Deux

Yesterday, the gardener showed up for Spring Cleanup. This morning, I woke to this.



Burr!
Since the same person does my snow removal, I guess he show up today to clear my driveway.