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The convention season is about to begin again, and I’m gearing up to make personal appearances at four or five cons. I’m not as young as I once was (who is?), so this year I’m limiting my appearances and staying home to write more.

I’ve said numerous times that the writing business is a numbers game (See “The Numbers Game” on my website or in the dozens of other place it’s been published). One becomes a good writer only by writing, and the more you write, the more you’ll get published. Depending on your innate talent and the number of books you’ve read, it takes writing five to ten complete novels before you become good enough to see print.

Each novel I write is better than the novel I wrote before. If you doubt that, compare Claw Hammer with Meat Cleaver or The Girl Who Lived.

It also takes a minimum of five years with five good novels in print before you breakout into public consciousness. Selling books requires word-of-mouth recommendations, good reviews, and titles displayed on bookstore shelves and on library shelves. Few people buy books authored by unknowns.

Does appearing at conventions help? Very little. Attendance at conventions and book signings is a chance to meet and greet the reading public, but it doesn’t sell a lot of books. Not unless people already know your name and recognize you as a good author.

I made a mistake and seriously damaged my authorial career when I stopped writing fiction for twenty years. Sure, there are still some people at conventions who know me and know my work from the 1980s and 1990s. But they are few and far between.

I have been back in the land of the living for nearly four years now. That is, I have regularly attended writing conferernces, genre conventions, and book signings since the year after my wife, Gretta M. Anderson, died of a massive heart attack in 2012. I appeared on panels, presented workshops, and autographed my own books. I attended the Nebula Awards, the Bram Stoker Awards, the Hugo Awards, and the Tiptree Awards banquets. I appeared on programs at MidAmericon II, Thrillerfest, World Fantasy Convention, Stokercon, OdysseyCon, Wiscon, and Windycon. I renewed friendships with authors, editors, and agents I have known for years and became new friends with authors, editors, and agents I met at recent cons.

I have two new stories already published in anthologies since last year, and I’ll have a major novel released on March 2. Four more stories will appear in anthologies by the end of 2017, and so will two more novels. So I must make some efforts to promote those works in the marketplace. I owe it to my editors and publishers, and to fans who expect an autograph when they buy my books.

I’ll be at Murder and Mayhem in Chicago March 11, Stokercon 2017 in Long Beach, CA April 27-30, Wiscon in Madison, WI May 26-29, and Thrillerfest in NYC July 13-16.

This year or the next should be my breakout year. The Girl Who Lived has received excellent reviews, and might be a breakout book. I plan to promote the hell out of it.

So, if you want to read what I believe is my best book yet, buy a copy of The Girl Who Lived.

And ask for my autograph when I seen you at one of those conventions I mentioned.

Kirkus Reviews of The Girl Who L

 

 

 

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THE GIRL WHO LIVED

Megan’s Story

Paul Dale Anderson

2AM Publications (306 pp.)

$14.95 paperback, $3.95 e-book

ISBN: 978-0-937491-19-5; January 5, 2017

BOOK REVIEW

After spending years in a mental institution, a woman has revenge on her mind in Anderson’s (Claw Hammer, 2016, etc.) dark thriller. Megan Williams was institutionalized five years ago after she killed one man and castrated three others who raped and disfigured her. She earns her freedom by telling her psychiatrist that she knows right from wrong—just what the doctor wants to hear. However, she still plans to murder the survivors of her last attempt at vengeance, which occurred after she’d spent one year in a coma and another undergoing reconstructive surgery and physical therapy. Shortly after her return to Twin Rivers, Illinois, cops find the body of a castrated man and suspect Megan of the crime. Newspaperman Tim Goodman, however, connects the new murder to five of the dead man’s associates, who are all inexplicably missing.

With police watching her, Megan puts her retribution on the back burner. Meanwhile, she’s leery of her older sister Susan’s new beau, Harry Berg. The mob-linked drug dealer hopes to launder money in Twin Rivers, and he’s also in the process of meting out payback to those who’ve wronged him. Soon, the dead bodies are stacking up, and Megan is in danger of arrest. Anderson rivetingly presents his protagonist from a first-person perspective, which clearly shows her instability. As she reveals more details of her attack, it seems as if she’s continually reliving it, which gives the book’s title a sad twist. As a result, readers will initially have sympathy for Megan, but it may subside as the story progresses; at one point, Megan says that she tortured multiple men, all strangers who picked her up at bars, as practice for her revenge; after butchering them, she says, she “showed them mercy and slit their throats to make certain they died.” Still, the story’s intensity rises with each new murder victim, as each puts Megan or someone she knows in potential danger. Anderson, meanwhile, does add glimmers of hope, as when he shows that Megan regrets at least one of her killings.

A relentlessly gloomy but memorable tale that explores questions of morality. — Kirkus Reviews, Feb 6, 2017

 

Available in trade paperback and Kindle editions. Order from http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-girl-who-lived-paul-dale-anderson/1125438993?ean=9780937491195

or from Amazon or Kobo.

 

Great Story, Competently Told

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Cataclysm by Tim Washburn (Pinnacle Books, November 2016) is the real deal. You know all hell is about to break loose in Yellowstone National Park when underground magma begins to shift in the caldera, causing earthquakes. Yellowstone is home to one of the world’s largest underground volcanoes. As the caldera rises, hydrothermal vents erupt as a precursor to a cataclysmic volcanic eruption that could threaten all life on earth.

What would you do if your own family were staying at the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone? Is there any way you can get them, and the tens of thousands of others in or near the park, out of harm’s way before the volcano erupts? Doctor Tucker Mayfield is the staff geologist monitoring on-site activity at Yellowstone. His entire family — brother Matt, sister-in-law Jessica, and a young niece and nephew — are vacationing in Yellowstone when the caldera threatens to erupt. The park is filled with families, and Tucker realizes evacuating them all before the volcano blows will be impossible.

First come the earthquakes, minor tremors that escalate into full-scale quakes. Then the geysers erratically spew boiling water high into the air, scalding hundreds of people and inundating acres of land. Volcanic ash from newly-opened fissures clogs automobile engines and brings down aircraft. If the volcano blows its lid, the entire Midwest and west coast of America could be buried beneath billions of tons of hot ash that will make the soil sterile for generations to come.

Without food, water, electricity, or transportation, how will the country survive?

President Drummond, the first female POTUS, declares a national emergency too late to save millions of lives. None of her learned advisers knew when or even if the volcano would erupt after being dormant for 640,000 years.

Author Washburn adds sexual tension to the mix as Rachel and April vie for Tucker’s attention. I wanted to shake or strangle several of the characters for being so selfish or dense that they put loved ones at risk. When pyroclastic flows containing boiling lava and hot acidic ash incinerate thousands of people, I wanted to shout “I told you so” to those who got their comeuppance.

But most of the dead are ordinary people who simply happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The true horror is that this could actually happen to you or me tomorrow, and there’s nothing we can do to prevent it. The only thing we can do is be aware it could possibly happen and be prepared to run for our lives if it does.

Great story, competently told, with believable characters. Highly recommended.

Gunmetal Gray by Mark Greaney is lots of fun

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https://www.amazon.com/Gunmetal-Gray-Man-Mark-Greaney/dp/0425282856/

Gunmetal Gray (a Gray Man Mystery-Thriller by Mark Greaney, Berkley, February 2017) returns Courtland Gentry to the side of the CIA instead of battling the agency to survive. But nothing is ever as it seems in a Gray Man novel, and Court is once again being played even as he plays others. At stake is the Chinese military’s cyberwarfare expert Fan Jiang, whose hacking knowledge the US wants. Unfortunately, so does the People’s Liberation Army, the Russian SVR, and members of the Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai crime syndicates.

Court arrives in Hong Kong, ostensibly to find his old friend Sir Donald Fitzroy. That’s his cover. Fitzroy — held prisoner by Colonel Dai, the PRC officer tracking Fan Jiang — convinces Dai that Court will help Dai find Jiang if Dai will promise to free Fitzroy. Zoya “Koshka” Zakharova — a Russian Zaslon spy and highly-trained assassin, code named “Sirena” and “Banshee”, who is a language expert and good at disguises — may prove herself The Gray Man’s equal. Zoya is one step ahead of Court most of the way. She very early identifies Court as a CIA operative by the questions he asks, but she is unable to remember what his face looks like. She wonders, “Is he that good?”

Yes, he is. Court is called “The Gray Man” because he’s trained to blend into his surroundings so well that no one notices him unless he wants them to notice him.

Besides the Gray Man series, Mark Greaney writes the latest Tom Clancy novels. Rumor has it that Greaney once worked for clandestine US intelligence agencies, and the author’s knowledge of tradecraft is evident in all his novels.

This is an action thriller from the word “go.” The fast-paced action is unrelenting as Court takes on fifty triad strongmen, races through Saigon on a motor bike, slogs through rice paddies and jungles, and escapes from blood-thirsty river pirates. Court is always outnumbered, outgunned, and hip-deep in alligators, but he escapes every in extremis situation by the skin of his teeth. He may be battered and bruised, but he’s never down and out. He leaves behind more dead bodies than an atomic bomb blast.

A Gray Man novel is always lots of fun.

 

 

 

I love the details Lisa Black provides in Unpunished

 

 

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Unpunished by Lisa Black (Kensington, January 31, 2017) is a Maggie Gardiner and Jack Renner mystery. Maggie is a police forensics tech, and Jack is a homicide detective. When key staff at the last remaining Cleveland daily newspaper are brutally murdered in the busy and noisy press room, Maggie and Jack are forced to work together to find the killer. Lisa Black provides enough back story so readers needn’t have read That Darkness, her previous novel in the Gardiner and Renner series, to feel the palpable tension between her two protagonists. The secret they share is enough to send both of them to prison for life if either of them talks: Jack is the hunted “Vigilante Killer” and Maggie, not Jack, actually pulled the trigger on the Vigilante’s last victim.

One major complication: Maggie’s ex-husband is also a homicide cop and he’s been assigned to track down the “Vigilante Killer” and bring him to justice.

Besides lots of forensic details designed to please mystery lovers and readers of police procedurals, this novel is chock-full of fascinating and accurate newspaper lure. In fact, the press-room murders are themselves symbolic of the death of print journalism in America in the digital age. Will the Cleveland Herald survive the deaths of its senior copy editor, the circulation manager, and others who daily expose and inform the public of the greed and corruption in our midst? Will Maggie and Jack survive to expose the killer? Will Maggie and Jack be exposed themselves?

I, of course, loved this novel. As a crime novelist and ex-newspaperman, I appreciated the details Black wove into the storyline as much as I appreciated the dialog and characterizations. I bought That Darkness after reading Unpunished, and I look forward to reading it and all future Gardiner and Renner novels.

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My father, Paul Anders Anderson, died 48 years ago today. He was born in 1904, and he was 64 years old when he died. He was three months shy of mandatory retirement. He had no plans of what to do with his life once he stopped working.

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Dad had worked swing shift in a fastener factory — days one week and nights the next — for more than forty years,. During WWII and the boom decade that followed, he worked ten hours a day, six days a week. I was raised more by my paternal grandparents who resided in the same house with us than I was by my birth parents. It seemed like Dad was always working and mom was always doing something at church. It wasn’t until after my grandparents died when I was twelve that I got to really know my mother and father.

What I cherish most about my parents is they read books and magazines and newspapers, and they encouraged me to read by reading to me when I was little and buying books for me to read to them as I grew. My father dropped out of school in the fourth grade. Although he was born and raised in Illinois and Wisconsin, English was not his native language. His parents, my grandparents, read and spoke only Swedish. Swedish was what was taught in the Rockford school Dad attended (Dad dropped out of school when English became mandatory). Dad learned English by reading books and newspapers on his own.

My mother, on the other hand, was of English and Irish extraction and graduated from both Rockford Central High School and Rockford Business College. She typed more than 120 WPM and knew Gregg shorthand. She was literate and, besides reading many of the classics, read Hemingway and Fitzgerald and popular writers like Maugham, O’Hara, Edna Ferber, Taylor Caldwell, and Graham Greene.

Mom and Grandma Anderson took turns reading me to sleep every night until I was four. Grandma read fairy tales in Swedish and Mom read Beatrix Potter in English.

I learned to read by following their fingers touching each of the words, silently pronouncing those words to myself after hearing the words spoken. My father bought me comic books every week when he went to the newsstand to purchase the Sunday Chicago newspapers. We had home delivery of the local daily newspapers, but Dad bought the Chicago Sunday’s early editions—Daily News, Sun-Times, Tribune, Harold-American—plus the Milwaukee Sentinel at the corner newsstand on Saturday afternoon on his way home from work.

Dad would read me the Sunday funnies and then read the newspapers himself while I read my comic books. When I came across a word I didn’t understand or couldn’t pronounce, I’d ask Dad. He’d get out the big Webster’s Unabridged and we’d look up the words together.

My father and I learned to read in English at the same time.

My mom taught me to write and how to type. And, every other Wednesday, Mom and Dad would take me to the local public library branch and we’d find books we could bring home to read.

It wasn’t until after my grandparents and then my mother died, that my father and I talked. We spent time reading together but we seldom talked to each other. The summer after my mother died, Dad asked me to accompany him on a journey across America—just the two of us in Dad’s 1959 Pontiac—on a 3-week road trip to the west coast. Along the way, we visited Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, Seattle, and everything in between. I was nineteen, and Dad and I could talk man-to-man for the first time ever.

Dad came to visit me at Fort Knox when I graduated from Basic Army Combat Training.

Three years later, two months after my daughter Tammy was born, My father died of a heart attack while shoveling the sidewalk on December 28, 1968.

That was 48 years ago now. I don’t know if I will be alive on the fiftieth anniversary of Dad’s death. I thought I should share these memories while I still can.

 

I miss you, Dad.

The Birth of a Book

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After weeks of final revisions and consideration of comments and suggestions from beta readers and editors, I receive the page proofs of the typeset novel for one final review. I’m promised  ARCs shortly after the beginning of the new year, and then I can—at last–hold a printed copy of the book in my hands and feel, as well as see, the child of my imagination made flesh. I will sniff the paper and the ink, run my fingertips lovingly over the cover and interior pages, and cry real tears.

Birthing a book is a joyous occasion. The conception, as always, may be a labor of love; but the delivery is nothing but pure time-consuming painful labor.

Next comes the really hard part: introducing the child to the world and analyzing each ohh and ahhh or worrying when others don’t see the same beauty and potential in my offspring that I see each time I look.

Here are the vitals:

6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Black & White on White paper
340 pages

$14.95 for Trade Paperback; $3.95 for Kindle version

2AM Publications
ISBN-13: 978-0937491195
ISBN-10: 0937491195
BISAC: Fiction / Psychological

Megan Williams returns to Twin Rivers after five years in a mental hospital to take final revenge on the men who raped and mutilated her. But the tiny Illinois town has grown into a bustling Chicago suburb near the end of the Metra line, and Megan isn’t the only serial killer now leaving dead bodies littering the streets. Can Megan keep her sister safe and still exact her revenge? Or will Megan’s actions make Susan, Tim, and Elsie targets? The Girl Who Lived, the sequel to Spilled Milk, is a fast-paced psychological thriller unlike anything you’ve read before. Not for the faint-hearted or squeamish, this is the story of what happens when a girl who was brutalized and left for dead gets a second chance at life.

Her picture is at the top of this page. Isn’t she lovely?

I’ve named her “Megan’s Story.” Megan is The Girl Who Lived.

You’ll get a chance to meet her on March 2, 2017.

If I sound like a proud parent, it’s because I am. Although two major NY publishers asked to adopt her, I wouldn’t let them. I chose 2AM Publications to be Megan’s god-parent.

Until Megan is old enough and strong enough to survive in the world by herself, I prefer to keep her close to home. I know how cold and cruel the world can be.

If you read Megan’s story, you’ll meet unscrupulous people who’ll do anything for a thrill or to make a quick buck. You’ll see people cut into pieces and discarded like trash. You’ll witness seductions and murders and know what it’s like to be incarcerated in jail cells or mental institutions. You’ll feel a silenced automatic pressed against the back of your head and realize how horrible it is to feel hopeless and helpless.

But you’ll also discover love and, perhaps, even find redemption.

I know I shed a tear or two while reading Megan’s Story.  All of my beta readers claim they did, too.

When I wrote Spilled Milk, the prequel to The Girl Who Lived: Megan’s Story, I wrote it as an obituary. I wrote The Girl who Lived as a birth announcement.

Please welcome Megan to the world of the living.

And join me for her Christening on March 2, 2017.