Monthly Archives: April 2011

COMING ON MONDAY: WRITING WORKSHOP FROM AUTHOR MICHAEL MURPHY

I hosted American suspense author Michael Murphy a few posts ago when I introduced him and his latest novel Scorpion bay. He’ll be back on Monday 2 May with a follow-up based on his Writers’ Workshop: You Too Can Write a Novel.

So, if you’re interested in writing a novel, but are in despair about actually getting the thing finished, tune in here on Monday for Michael’s wise words on the subject.

In the meantime, why not take another look at his books and his website, so you know a little more about him.

Michael’s Bio:
In addition to being a full time writer, Michael Murphy is a part time urban chicken rancher. He and his wife make their home in Arizona with their two cats, four dogs and five chickens. He enjoys writing mystery and suspense novels with twists and turns and splashes of humor.  Scorpion Bay is his seventh novel.  
Here are two Amazon links, for paperback and Kindle:
Michael’s website: www.mjmurphy.com
Here are a couple of reviews of Scorpion Bay
‘Strap yourself in and get ready for plenty of action, suspense, crime, corruption, a touch of romance and comedy. Include a high tech motorcycle, our hero in a black disguise to hide his identity along with designer drugs, intrigue and danger on a luxury yacht on Scorpion Bay. Michael Murphy shares the map to fast paced intrigue with three dimensional characters and a great story line that will keep you involved and wanting more until the last page.’
Nikki Leigh, award winning fiction and non fiction author.
“Part thriller, part romance, part comedy, part mystery and all satisfying; Scorpion Bay is an impossible book to put down. Prepare to burn the midnight oil with this one, rooting for Parker Knight as Murphy carefully unravels the plot on the very last word.”
Alisha Paige, author of Circle City: Lord of the Wolfen–coming soon.

INTRODUCING AUTHOR DOUGLAS CORLEONE

Today I’m hosting prize-winning author Douglas Corleone and his novel Night on Fire. Douglas, an ex New York criminal defence attorney, will be posting about how he set up his Kevin Covlelli mystery series and has also sent an excerpt of his latest novel. Look forward to a treat! Take it away, Douglas.
The Kevin Corvelli mystery series was inspired by two of my greatest experiences – working for several years as a criminal defense attorney in New York City and beginning a new life in Hawaii at the age of 30.  When I first moved to Honolulu in the fall of 2005, I saw the island paradise through completely fresh eyes — I’d never even visited Hawaii before.  That served as a great jumping-off point for my protagonist Kevin Corvelli.  Like me, Kevin Corvelli had been a criminal defense attorney in New York.  Only Kevin’s reason for fleeing was a bit different from mine.  Kevin felt responsible for the death of an innocent client; I simply desired less stress in my life. 
So Kevin Corvelli and I moved to Waikiki at the same point in our lives.  But that’s when our two lives completely diverged.  Kevin continued to practice criminal law in Honolulu, and I set out to write about his adventures.  My debut novel ONE MAN’S PARADISE is both a fish-out-of-water story and a tale of redemption.  Kevin Corvelli must find a way to adapt to this entirely new world while handling a high-profile murder case and trying to relieve his conscience of the events that transpired in New York. 
The seeds of that first novel were planted by the around-the-clock coverage of the Natalee Holloway story.  ONE MAN’S PARADISE begins much the same way – a beautiful young woman last seen on a tropical beach with a local man.  Of course, that’s where the similarities cease, with the exception of the news media’s relentless speculation about what really occurred on that dark beach.  ONE MAN’S PARADISE went on to win the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award, and immediately, I began work on the sequel, NIGHT ON FIRE. 
NIGHT ON FIRE was also inspired by an event in my own life.  In NIGHT ON FIRE, Kevin Corvelli narrowly escapes a deadly arson fire at a popular Hawaiian beach resort, only to land the prime suspect as a client.  When I was a child, traveling with my family in Canada, I was awoken one night to the sound of a fire alarm.  I was terrified, and I remember that feeling of terror as though it occurred just recently, even though I don’t recall a single other moment of that trip.  The fire had started two floors down from ours, and all hotel guests were evacuated without any serious injuries.  Still, I don’t think I had a fitful night’s rest in a hotel in the ten years following that event.  And even as I re-read NIGHT ON FIRE now, I still feel a sense of dread as Kevin Corvelli attempts to escape the fire – and rescue a small child in the process. 
So that’s how the Kevin Corvelli mystery series came about – partly autobiographical, except for all the danger, of course.   
Blurb

Kevin Corvelli—a hotshot New York defense attorney who packed up his bags and hung his shingle in Hawaii to dodge the spotlight—is deep in his mai tais at a resort when an argument erupts down at the other end of the bar. It’s a pair of newlyweds, married that very day on the beach. And since Corvelli doesn’t do divorces, he all but dismisses the argument.

That’s at least until the fire breaks out later that night, and he barely escapes his hotel room. Most weren’t so lucky, including the new husband. His wife, Erin, becomes not only the police’s prime suspect for arson and murder but also Corvelli’s newest client, and she has a lot working against her, like motive and opportunity, not to mention a history of starting fires.

The heat gets turned all the way up in Douglas Corleone’s scorching legal thriller Night on Fire, his second following the MB/MWA’s First Crime Novel Competition winner, One Man’s Paradise.Excerpt from NIGHT ON FIRE

Bio

DOUGLAS CORLEONE is a former New York City defense attorney and winner of the Mystery Writers of America/Minotaur Books First Crime Novel Competition. He now lives in the Hawaiian Islands with his wife and son. This is his second novel.
                As I rise to consciousness I realize the prison alarm is just an alarm clock, maybe the loudest alarm clock on earth.  Lying on my stomach I feel around for an extra pillow, place it atop my head and try to smother my ears.
                When the cougar begins clawing at my back I realize this is no alarm clock.  It’s a goddamn fire alarm, the kind of fire alarm even the dead could hear.  I reach for another flat, lifeless pillow and tug it down hard over the first.
                The cougar’s growling something at me.
                “…time is it?” I shout.
                I peek out from beneath my pillowed teepee and glance at the window.  It’s still night, no light spilling in at all.  My eyes flutter toward the digital alarm clock, which reads two-twenty something, the last digit blacked out by one of my socks.
                Quickly I take inventory of myself: pounding head, burning stomach, a mouth that tastes like rum and coconut suntan lotion.  So, nothing out of the ordinary. 
                The cougar meanwhile is on her feet, slipping back into her sundress, shouting at me to get out of bed.
                “No way,” I say, lowering the heavy lids of my eyes.
                Fire alarms, they go off all the time.  Like car alarms, only louder.  I’ve been putting up with this ever since my first semester at URI, some jacked-up resident advisor constantly chasing me naked out of the freshman dorm.  Drills they called them.  Drills held in the dead of night just to get the girls outside in their underwear, nipples instantly hardening under white cotton tank tops in the brisk New England air.  Gossips loitering with their binoculars ready to report the following morning on who is sleeping with whom.  Dorms, hotels, condos, apartment buildings, it’s always the same.  Always a prankster, some joker or toker higher than an elephant’s eye blowing bong smoke up at the ceiling.  Never is it a bona fide emergency.
                Well, almost never.
                The cougar smacks my bare back so hard that it stings. “There’s a fire,” she shouts.
                I groan.  “How do you know, baby?”
                “Because there are flames out in the hall and there’s smoke coming in under the door,” she yells.  “And stop calling me baby!”
                That gets me up.  Still in my boxers, I’m out of the bed and by the front door in a few rapid heartbeats, checking the handle for heat.
                My hand sizzles for several seconds before I yank it away and yelp in pain.  Yeah, it’s hot.  Hellishly hot.  And even from a few feet away I can see the flames licking the peephole I’m too frightened to approach with my face.    
                I turn and glance toward the sliding glass door to the lanai, but we’re sixteen floors up and cougars can’t fly.  As far as I know, neither can lawyers.
                There is one more exit in the room, a door that leads to a door that leads to the adjoining suite.  By the time I raise my singed hand to point to it, the cougar is already there, the first door open, checking the second for heat.
                “It’s cool,” she says, frantically trying the handle.  “But it’s locked.”
                I edge closer to the front door, squint my right eye and catch a glimpse out the peephole.  The hall is now filled with thick black smoke, and it’s nearly impossible to see anything.  But the smoke appears to be billowing from the left, and the suite adjoining ours is to our right.  If we can get through that door, we might just have an avenue of escape.
                In the distance I hear sirens.  But for us it’s too little too late.  If we’re going to survive, we’re going to do so on our own.
I don’t know about you, but I’m dying to know what happens next! Doug, thank you for a most interesting post. From chilly Norfolk in England  I envy you those Hawaiian Islands and the susnshine and blue ocean.
To learn more about Douglas Corleone and his novels here are links to amazon and to Doug’s website.
   

THE HANGING TREE

The Hanging Tree, my latest ebook, is now live on amazon. This is the fourth in my Rafferty & Llewellyn mystery series and my fourth ebook.

I’ve made a trailer. I’ve been having a little trouble uploading my trailers lately, so I hope this upload goes okay.

YES! SUCCESS!

NOW NUMBERS 4 AND 6 ON KINDLE!

 Since writing my last-but-one post, I’ve discovered something about amazon’s sales rankings.

Turns out they’re not of all sales, but of sales made within a specified hour. Personally, I think ‘All’ sales would be a better idea. At least you’d know how a book was doing against its competitiors. I find this hourly system entirely meaningless.
But, hey. Never let it be said that I can’t go with the flow. Every other author whose blog I read seems happy enough with this system, so who am I to argue?
For what it’s worth, here’s a screenshot of my results from yesterday. Two of my books are placed at numbers 4 and 6 in the amazon’s sales rankings.That’s Death Line in at Number 4 and Dead Before Morning in at Number 6. Reason to celebrate? Why not?

MAKING VIDEO BOOK TRAILERS

Do you want to know how to make video book trailers? I’m self-taught, so don’t expect sophistication. But I’ve had a couple of compliments on them even if earlier ones were a bit long. Stick with me and you’ll have a trailer to put up on youtube, vimeo and blazing saddles.
Here we go. If you look at your Start Menu, you’ll see that you have a programme called Windows Movie Maker. Click on that. Click on File and select ‘New Project’. If you have your book cover, select ‘Add Video and Photo’. Find your cover and open it into Movie Maker.
Okay, you’ve got your first still. Next, you’ll probably want to do an intro, so click on ‘Title’. You’ll see some words on the black screen. Delete these and add your own. You’ll want the title of your book, author’s name and mention the series name if it’s part of a series. You can alter the colour and size of the words and move them about the screen. Once you’re happy, click outside the text box.
Next you’ll want some pictures. I bought my photos from http://www.fotolia.com, but there are plenty of stock photo sites out there – http://www.iStockPhoto.com is another site I’ve used. With both of these sites, you designate what rights you wish to purchase and buy credits. Medium size seems to suit most requirements. On these photo sites you can store a selection of pictures in your own lightbox. You can then go through deciding which pix you want. Once you’ve selected suitable pictures and paid for them with the credits you purchased (a Standard  License is likely to do for most book trailers, unless you envisage selling many thousands of books), you can download them. Once you’ve done that, you need to open up Windows Movie Maker again and import the pictures (Add videos and photos). I would advise importing these into WMM in the order you intend to use them, otherwise you will have to shift and shunt them about. You might as well get them right the first time. I would now save as a Project
I’d learned from my earlier efforts and for this one I wrote out a short synopsis of the novel then broke it into bite-sized pieces. Don’t make each of your pieces of text much more than half-a-dozen words or your viewer won’t be able to read them quickly enough and will just end up confused. There is, I seem to recall reading somewhere, a way to increase the viewing time of a particular frame, but I can’t remember what it is. Anyway, I still don’t think you should have great screeds of text.
To place the text, make sure you’ve on HOME (top left), then click on Title and name your book and yourself as the author. Next click on your first picture and then click on CAPTIONS and type in the first of your short blocks of text. These will go either on the picture itself or on a separate screen,depending on which version of Move Maker you have. You might have to alter the colour, size, boldness or placing of your text if it goes on top of the picture. You do this by highlighting and then select bold, size and colour. You move the words around by clicking on the dotted lines. Sorry. I don’t want to  teach Granny to suck eggs, but I don’t know what level of computer use I’m addressing here
Carry on placing your CAPTIONS against each picture until you’ve typed up all of your synopsis. Try not to make this too long as the shortest Video Book Trailers are regarded as the best. Brief and punchy should be your aim. You may need to experient with colours for your text as sometimes particular colours won’t show up well if they have to be placed right over the picture rather than to the side which makes for greater clarity.
Here’s a brief example of how I wrote out what I was doing. 
PIX:                  BOOK COVER
TEXT:               Dead Before Morning
                        A Rafferty and Llewellyn Crime Novel
                        by Geraldine Evans
TEXT:               DI Joe Rafferty
PICTURE:         A hand holding the word ‘JOB’ ( In the UK, a policeman’s profession is
                        known as ‘The Job’.).
TEXT                has just been promoted.
PICTURE:         Partying People
TEXT:               But the morning after the night before
PICTURE:         Man with tie undone and lipstick on collar.
TEXT                a girl has been found murdered.
Well, I think you get the idea. It carries on like that, text and picture, text and picture till I get to the end. You want a brief snapshot of the book, that’s all, the shorter the better. Choose your words and pictures carefully. Your aim should be to try to make an impact and give the gist of the book. For my latest one for Deadly Reunion, I’ve managed to get it down to eleven pictures including my book cover and about a minute and a half in time. Of course it helps that now I put the words on top of the pictures instead of in front of them as used to be the case with the old version of MM
Once I was happy that I’d got my text and pictures in the right order, I decided on my transitions. These can be the transition of your still picture flying away, as in the old movies, or any of the other choices. Experiment a bit. I didn’t select and place my transitions before I was sure I had finished shifting and shunting my text and pictures around as for one of my videos I did alternating transitions and they kept getting out of sync and I had to go through and alter them all. I’d already chosen my text colour and background colour.
To select your transitions, go to ‘Animations’, clickto the left of the picture where you want the particular transition and then click on the transition. On my earlier movies it was a click and drag operation, but this is another one of the changes I had to get used  to when I got a new laptop with updated Movie Maker.
If you click on ‘Visual Effects’ when you have a picture in the screen, you will see the different things you can do to the appearance of your pix. Don’t go mad and choose a different Effect for each picture. The result would probably be bizarre, not to mention unprofessional. We’re trying for Steven Spielberg here, not Picasso.
Next you want to get your music. I liked listening to lots of different pieces of music in an attempt to find a piece that was appropriate to my book trailer. Eventually, I found one I was happy with. If you write romances, you’ll probably want something suitably dreamy. Likewise, if you write thrillers, something fast and dramatic would likely be the best. You then need to go online, find a music site and pay for the license to use the track you want. I use StockMusicSite.com. Once you’ve paid for and downloaded your music, you should find it in My Music of Downloads. To get it onto the trailer, you need to click on ‘Home’ in Movie Make, click at the left of your first picture and then select ‘Add Music’.
Remember to make sure you choose your music and pictures from a bona fide site where you pay for the appropriate usage. Other artists also like to get paid when their work is used, so don’t be tempted to go for the non-bona fide site.
Now you want to add the CREDITS. So click on HOME then CREDITS. Then type Movie by (your name). Then, on another line, Pictures from fotolia (or wherever). Then, music: Humoresque by Dvorak (or what and whomever).
Okay, you’ve got your words, you’ve got your pictures, you’ve got your music and you’ve let the credits roll. You’ve got a Movie, baby!
Next, you want to ‘Save Project As’ to get the version of the video that can be uploaded to YouTube, etc. Once it’s saved, from File select ‘Publish Movie’ and select whichever choice you prefer. Most people go for YouTube to upload to. Naturally, you’ll have already signed up as a member for whatever site you’ve chosen for your video upload. If you haven’t this is as simple as it is for most sites. Just click on ‘Sign Up’. You don’t even have to stick at one upload. You can put it on youtube, vimeo and whatever other ones you can think of as well as on your website and blog and facebook and twitter and crimespace and… Well I think you get the idea..
Here’s a trailer I made earlier. This is a long one, but not without amusement.

Sorry. the blasted thing won’t load. Oh well. You can still see examples of my trailers on my website. Go to: http://www.geraldineevans.com/  You’ll find a number of different trailers for my books, some better than others, some with music, some without. For more examples, some made by professional outfits, log on to YouTube and click on a video. Give you some ideas for your next movie?

Once you get adept, you might even be able to put in moving pictures. If you do, you will tell me how to do it, won’t you?

GUEST POST FROM AMERICAN SUSPENSE AUTHOR MICHAEL MURPHY

Today’s guest author is American suspense author Michael Murphy. Michael is the author of seven novels and Scorpion Bay is his latest.

Here’s Michael to tell you something about himself and his book.
In addition to writing novels, I also conduct novel writing workshops at libraries and book stores in Arizona called You Too Can Write a Novel.  Most people I meet indicate an interest in writing, but are intimidated by the thought of writing a 70,000 word novel.  Here’s what I tell them in the workshops.
Unlike other categories of writing, the essential component of a novel is the scene.  Typical scenes can be 500 words.  In school we were often asked to write 500 word themes on various subjects.  We survived, although I always put off the task until the last minute.  I tell workshop attendees if they can write a 500 word theme, they can write a 500 word scene.  If they can write a scene, they can write three or four and voila, a chapter is born. 
If you can write a chapter, you can write twenty.  If you can write twenty chapters, you’ve probably got yourself a novel.  Don’t think about writing 70,000 words.  Think about writing one scene.  That’s how I wrote my first novel, Class of ‘68.  And that’s how I wrote six more including my new thriller, Scorpion Bay
Focus on creating a scene and you too can write a novel.
Geraldine: I’ve found this to be true. When I started my mystery series, I wrote in scenes. It was less intimidating to concentrate on writing a scene rather than a BOOK. And, unlike a book, a scene can be made perfect!
Scorpion Bay Blurb:
When a car bomb kills the prosecuting attorney and a key witness against a powerful bioengineering industrialist, the blast shatters the life of the attorney’s husband, popular Phoenix television investigative reporter, Parker Knight.  After authorities hit a dead end, Parker risks his career and his life to seek his own revenge. Riding a high tech motorcycle and wearing a black disguise, the crusading newsman inadvertently becomes a media created superhero jeopardizing his quest for justice.
Michael’s Bio:
In addition to being a full time writer, Michael Murphy is a part time urban chicken rancher. He and his wife make their home in Arizona with their two cats, four dogs and five chickens. He enjoys writing mystery and suspense novels with twists and turns and splashes of humor.  Scorpion Bay is his seventh novel.  

Here’s a extract of Scorpion Bay. Enjoy. I sure did.

Outside, Parker spotted his Kawasaki parked in the driveway in front of the white van. Biting at the tape around his wrists, he dashed across the rain-slickened lawn and ripped off the binding.
Parker sprinted to the bike and grabbed the extra key he always kept in the saddlebag. He leaped onto his bike and inserted the key. A shot blew the left mirror apart in a burst of shards. Parker gunned the bike behind the van as two more shots slammed into the side of the van shattering the quiet of the dark neighborhood.
The motorcycle fishtailed on the wet street. Parker glanced back to see Carl and Lenny scramble into the van. With cold rain lashing his face, Parker skidded around the corner, regained control and checked back over his shoulder as the van shrieked in pursuit.
Unfamiliar with the neighborhood, Parker raced through the streets and approached a red light at the six-way intersection of Grand Avenue near the fairgrounds. Hoping to elude the two men in traffic, Parker took a quick glance over one shoulder then ran the light, turning north in front of a fast moving one-ton pickup.
Blasting its horn and squealing its tires, the pickup swerved and clipped the back of Parker’s bike. The Kawasaki’s rear tire slid, the handlebars wobbled and the motorcycle veered toward the center island.
With a jolt, the bike hit the curb. Parker somersaulted into the landscaped median and landed beside a saguaro cactus. His head slammed against the hard ground as the bike slid into oncoming traffic. A squeal of tires on the wet pavement was followed by a crunch of metal. A semi crushed the Kawasaki like a cheap beer can.
Head buzzing and rain dripping onto his face, Parker saw the driver from the pickup climb out and rush to his side. “Don’t move,” the man said. “I called nine-one-one.”
“Where’s the white van?”
“What white van?” The man ripped off his Diamondbacks jacket and stuffed it under Parker’s head. Feeling lightheaded, Parker gazed across the intersection and spotted the van stopped at the traffic light. The image blurred, and Parker drifted into unconsciousness.

Thank you, Michael. That was certainly fast-paced. It practically takes your breath away!

Here’s two Amazon links, for paperback and Kindle:
Michael’s website: www.mjmurphy.com

Here are a couple of reviews of Scorpion Bay

‘Strap yourself in and get ready for plenty of action, suspense, crime, corruption, a touch of romance and comedy. Include a high tech motorcycle, our hero in a black disguise to hide his identity along with designer drugs, intrigue and danger on a luxury yacht on Scorpion Bay. Michael Murphy shares the map to fast paced intrigue with three dimensional characters and a great story line that will keep you involved and wanting more until the last page.’
Nikki Leigh, award winning fiction and non fiction author.

“Part thriller, part romance, part comedy, part mystery and all satisfying; Scorpion Bay is an impossible book to put down. Prepare to burn the midnight oil with this one, rooting for Parker Knight as Murphy carefully unravels the plot on the very last word.”
Alisha Paige, author of Circle City: Lord of the Wolfen–coming soon.

Here are Michael’s previous novels.

THE HANGING TREE

Hope to soon have The Hanging Tree published on kindle. Meanwhile, here’s a peak at the cover. It’s not quite the final version as it’s going to have another tweak with, hopefully, another noose fixed on the letter ‘H’ of Hanging. My idea. I just thought it added that little something extra.
I’ve done the trailer for this book. It’s got the pre-tweaked book cover, but I had the trailer finished all but the cover for days and then I received this nearly finished cover from Rick Capidamonte of Booknook.biz who do my covers and eformatting and I couldn’t resist using it. Hope it works as this is from my website rather than my usual YouTube.