All Our Writing Secrets…

 

26197452_1973848299537356_613404395_n

Would you buy a book from this man?

It’s been very cold here in Central New York. I’m talking below zero on a regular basis cold. When it’s this cold there are only a few things I enjoy doing, and most of them I can’t talk about here. Because they involve things like shoe sales and peel and eat shrimp.

I also like to write.

I’m sure if you’ve ever been to this blog before you’ve probably heard me talk about Craig Hart, my writing partner on the SpyCo novella series. We’ve been friends for a very a long time (300 years), and we took the plunge to start writing books together last year. Why wait 299 years before starting, you ask? I wanted to make sure he was the real deal. You can never be too careful about these things. I mean, look at the guy!

 

minnie

Buy a book from Craig and you get THIS for free!

Of course, I really can’t complain too much. I mean, look at what he has to work with!

Craig and I were talking earlier today on Facebook Messenger. This, then, is your first earth-shaking behind the scenes revelation: we do 99% of our communicating on Messenger. (The other 1% is email, but I cringe whenever he sends me one because the subject line is always “You’re Fired!” And somehow he actually writes it in Trump’s voice!)

While we were talking, goofing around actually, an idea emerged for a future character. This is not the first time this has happened. As a matter of fact, character genesis via the two of us being wise-asses is a fairly common occurrence. Want to know a character that was spawned this way? Secret #2, the very popular Dot started out as a joke. I’m paraphrasing here, but it went something like this:

S: I saw the world’s most crotchety old woman today. I thought she was going to punch me in the face.
C: I would have paid to see that.
S: Haha.
C: Wouldn’t it be great to have a cantankerous old lady in the organization somewhere?
S: Oh my god, yea! I can picture her with bright red lips and nails, cigarette hanging out of her mouth.
C: Every other word out of her mouth would be an obscenity.
S: But when push comes to shove she’s amazingly badass. Stone cold killer.

I could have gone back through our Messenger history and found the exact conversation, but I’d probably have to use a lot of comic book swear symbols. And anyway you get the idea.

Those Messenger conversations, which often occur late at night when our families are tucked comfortably into their beds, are sometimes as exciting as anything you read in the books themselves. A random comment will spark an idea. That idea will lead to another, and so on. One night before we knew what had happened we had sketched out ideas for at least four future books. Boom.

There are several “types” of writers when it comes to the topic of planning a book. There are people who know before they type the first word exactly everything that’s going to happen. They map everything out in detail and they never deviate. Then there are those by-the-seat-of-their-pants writers, who fire up Word and start writing.

We fall somewhere in the middle. We start out with some definite ideas about certain aspects of the book, like where it’s going to be set, who’s going to be featured, etc. The very cool thing about this was that before we started working together this was the style each of us already employed. The fact that the merger of our techniques and skills worked so well was a very happy surprise for us. And here comes the next big secret revealed:

athensOur partnership began as the result of… wait for it… a Messenger conversation in mid-September 2017. Craig was tossing out little questions about the possibility of my interest in working on the series, which at that point consisted of one book (Assignment: Athens), so I suppose it was not yet technically a series. Interestingly I had already been toying the with the idea of doing something in the action/espionage genre and had yet to pull the string and start it, so I thought this might be a good way to dip my toe so to speak.

Craig knew I was working on something else, and asked what sort of time frame would work for me. We agreed I’d start writing on October 1st, with the goal of having it finished by the beginning of November.  Of course, I started writing the day after we first talked about it.

parisI delivered my manuscript, Assignment: Paris a couple weeks ahead of the deadline. Sue me. It was a pretty good story and it introduced a very good character, Perry Hall. Craig took what I wrote and turned it into a very good book. And then he said, “Hey, do you think you’d like to do this again, together this time?” I’d like to tell you that I thought about my answer for a long time, asking myself questions like, “Is this something I really want to commit to?” or “Can I work that closely with another writer, especially one as successful as Craig?” I’d like to tell you I was worried about clashing egos and vastly different styles and techniques. That would have been the responsible, grown-up things to do.

But what I actually did was answer immediately, “When can we start?”

istanbulWe began working on Assignment: Istanbul a day or so later, and the rest has been a whirlwind ride, leading us to Assignment: Dublin, which is very close to completion.

What has been the oddest part of working with Craig, you ask? Oh, you asked. I heard you.

My very honest answer to that is the oddest part is actually having people read what I’m writing. Before working with Craig I’d published a book of short fiction and two novels in the fantasy genre. They were, I thought, pretty decent books, and since publishing the first of these in January of 2017, I’ve come to realize that approximately 25 people agree with me. Let’s just say sales were not overwhelming. With the SpyCo novellas, things were different. By working with a far more established author with an established readership I walked into a franchise that provided me with new readers, new friends, and a new determination to keep writing books, which since I was about 12 years old was basically the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do.

So that’s it. That’s all you’re getting out of me.

OK, OK. I’ll give you one more secret:

To this point in Assignment: Dublin there have been at least ten killings, and we’re not done yet…

Dubs cover

It’s coming… Get ready!

 

 

Advertisements

Website Blues

This blog has been around almost exactly as long as my official website, sjvarengo.com. It was started to capitalize on the fact that feed from the blog will show up on my Amazon.com Author page, a function which my website cannot provide.

Originally the website had a lot of extra features that the blog didn’t, such as pages for each of my books including covers, details, and excerpts. There were also links to the pages of some of my friends/fellow-authors. There was an email newsletter sign up page, and there were copies of the blog posts from here.

Over the course of 2017, I grew less and less enamored with the website. It was constructed with 10-year-old software, and as a result looked at least 10 years worth of dated.

So I took some time late last week and mirrored all the features of the website as additional pages on the blog. There remains one major step and that’s to transfer the sjvarengo.com domain here, a step which will be occurring relatively soon. (There is a cost to upgrade the blog to the point where I can point the domain to it, and I’m waiting to get that together. It’s very reasonable, but every penny is spoken for at present!)

 

stuff-excited-about-2018

This guy is PUMPED! Are you?

At any rate, those of you who have known about this blog already, I thank you for your readership, and I invite you to check out some of the new features that have been added and can be accessed from the menu bar at the top of the page, (or the drop-down menu if you’re viewing on anything other than a computer). Those of you who may be visiting for the first time, welcome, and I hope you come back often! You should feel free to poke around as well. And anyone who has not yet joined the email reader’s list, fill out the popup when it arrives. You only have to fill it out once, though it may greet you everytime you stop by. (It’s a third-party script and I don’t think it’s smart enough to stop harassing you after you join the list!)

I’m looking forward to exciting things in 2018. I hope you’ll come along for the ride!

 

Cerah of Quadar Cover Redesigns

Although my writing over the past several months has taken me in new directions, my thoughts have been recently drifting back to my first two novels, collectively the Cerah of Quadar series, and I’ve been dealing with the fact that I have never really been happy with the cover design.

I was talking with a friend who writes in both the fantasy and crime/thriller genre’s and when she looked up my books her first comment was “You need to redo your covers.” (You should check out her work, by the way, as she’s tearing it up on the Amazon writer rankings right now, and deservedly so. Her work is stellar. Her name is Tina Glasneck.)

I’d known already that they needed to go in a different direction, that they lacked drama and they didn’t look much like what other people in the genre were doing. They still may be a little different than the standard Berzerker with a bloody ax art that many fantasy writers use, but I feel like they reflect the feel of the books now, focusing in the two main characters, Cerah herself, and her husband Slurr.

My email newsletter readers already got to see the new covers, (and if you fill out the form that pops up when you visit this page you can be among that elite crew), but now it’s your turn.

Book #1: A Dark Clock

ADC2018a

What you see in this cover is almost the exact image of Cerah that I’ve carried in my mind since first conceiving the character in 2009, especially as she appears in Book One. In her face you see fierce determination, an understanding of the immensity of her role in her planet’s history and future, and yet there is just a hint of innocence and uncertainty.

Book #2: Many Hidden Rooms

MHR2018a

Here is Slurr Jacasta, described through out both books as a kind and gentle soul, pure of heart and completely devoted to Cerah, the love of his life. But in Many Hidden Rooms we see another side of him as he grows into his role. When faced with the forces of evil, Slurr is a single-minded force of destruction, a bane to any who have the misfortune of opposing him. I feel this image captures him at the instant of transformation from the gentle farm boy to the cold-blooded killer that the battle against darkness makes it necessary that he become.

While I have always believed that what is between the covers of a book is far more important than the cover itself, there is no denying that it is vital to catch the eye of the potential reader. Once you’ve done that it’s up to you to earn the attention the cover has garnered. As my friend and writing partner Craig A. Hart says, “Covers get ’em, content keeps ’em.”

I’ve uploaded these revisions and the new faces should be appearing on Amazon in the next couple of days, on the Kindle versions first, then the paperback, such as it goes. I’ll be doing a follow-up post when they’re actually available with a link for you to check them out.

Dublin Dispatch #5 – The Essentials

Since my first post during my all-expense-paid vacation to Ireland… AUGH there goes that autocorrect again! It was supposed to say “grueling grind of non-stop research with no fun and certainly no chasing after pretty girls or pub crawling I can assure you.” I’m beginning to think Craig has tampered with my keyboard.

Nonetheless, now that the holidays are past I felt it was important that I do a few of the essential things one does when visiting this beautiful country. The first of these was “kissing the Blarney Stone.”

The Blarney Stone is located at Blarney Castle. I know, shocking revelation, right? Blarney Castle is near Cork, which is about 236.2 km (or 163.5 miles in non-freaky-deaky metric) from Dublin. I felt this was an extremely long way to walk, (although I regularly pledge to walk the 885 miles from Syracuse to Iowa City every time Craig does a book signing, a pledge I have proudly not yet kept even a single time). There are plenty of ways to get from Dubs to Cork via the M7 and M8 highways, and after careful consideration, I felt the best of these would be to steal a car. So after yet another all-night session of pub research, I found a lovely unlocked vehicle and plied my hotwiring skills, learned from years of watching The Dukes of Hazard on TV.

When you arrive on the site you are greeted by this sign:

blarney sign

I saw that and thought, “Eloquence and persuasiveness? That’s perfect for me!” After all, what writer doesn’t want to be eloquent? And once a book is written, what writer does not want to persuade millions of people to buy it? Then I thought, “If you get eloquence and persuasiveness for kissing the Blarney Stone, what happens if you get to second base with it?”

Anyway, what this sign doesn’t tell you is that the Blarney Stone is built into the battlements of the castle, way the hell up in the air. Upon learning this I questioned whether or not I still wanted to make untoward advances toward a rock, but before I could chicken out and bail I was swept along in a crowd of other potential rock molesters and soon found myself way further up from the ground than I cared to be.

Because there were so many other people, it turns out that I didn’t really have time to develop a deep, meaningful relationship with this inanimate object. It also turns out that the actual act of kissing the stone is not the least bit comfortable or pleasant. Doing it looks like this.

Blarney-Stone1

I would ask the reader to note the open space below this stone-lover’s upper body. That is a very long drop to the ground. Also, I have a bad back, and the required position for kissing the Blarney Stone would have sent me into spasms that I did not relish the thought of. So, in the end, I decided to keep my relationship with the Stone purely platonic. We shook hands, and I headed back to Dublin.

I wisely abandoned the stolen vehicle on the outskirts of town and walked [ed. note: read “stumbled”] to Grafton Street to see the world-famous statue of Molly Malone. Upon arriving I was informed that the statue was moved to Suffolk Street in 2014. Nice of them to let me know. But, as I was on an important research mission, it allowed me to visit several more pubs before arriving at the statue.

For those of you who don’t know, Molly Malone is a mythical fish-monger, who was immortalized in song back in the 1800’s. Here is the opening of that song:

In Dublin’s fair city,
Where the girls are so pretty,
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone,
As she wheeled her wheel-barrow,
Through streets broad and narrow,
Crying, “Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!”

In my humble opinion, this would have been a lousy thing to do for a living. But times were tough, as evidenced by the third verse, which goes:

She died of a fever,
And no one could save her,
And that was the end of sweet Molly Malone.
But her ghost wheels her barrow,
Through streets broad and narrow,
Crying, “Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!”

Obviously, healthcare then wasn’t what it is now. At any rate, having heard the song, I began to question whether or not I even wanted to see the statue. Would it smell like fish? Would the fever have turned Molly into an ugly hag of a girl? And screw ghosts in general!

But the other bar patrons assured me that going to see her and actually touching the statue was one of the Dublin essentials, so I relented. When I arrived on Suffolk Street, this is what I saw:

mollymalone

Needless to say, things got out of hand quickly. You might notice that the metal in the area of her prominent lady places is a little shinier than the statue overall. That’s because this is the part that everyone touches. The folks in Dublin are used to this, but they were not prepared for the level of ardor I brought to the task. Apparently screaming, “What a rack!” at the top of one’s lungs followed by climbing into the wheelbarrow and offering one’s undying love is frowned upon.

Man-in-chains-xxxSo, I’m am sad to report that this will be the final Dublin dispatch, as the powers that be have asked me to leave the country. I’m filing this post from a dinghy that was set adrift in Dublin harbor, and am now several miles out to sea. Furthermore, I was asked to wear the outfit you see to the right, which, I might add, is making the act of typing a tad bit difficult. Apparently, they don’t care. Also, they were able to connect me with the stolen vehicle, probably due to my DNA being all over the empty bottles of Guinness that were strewed about the interior, so there’s probably a small bill coming for something called “restitution.” (I have to admit that I didn’t really have time to learn all of the quaint Irish idioms, but I’m sure Craig will have no problem writing the check, which needs to be made out for “1 million.” I’m pretty sure euros are like play money, so it can’t be that much in real dollars, can it?)

Well, the waves are getting pretty choppy, and I noticed that this boat is leaking pretty badly, so I should probably sign off and see what I can do about being rescued. Oh, look, there’s another boat, filled with what looks like the fellows from that movie “Captain Phillips.” I’m sure everything will be just fin…

Dublin Dispatch #4 – A New Year in Dublin

dublin coverHello and greetings once again from the House that St. Paddy built! (I don’t know if anyone actually calls Ireland that, but it worked for the Yankees with Babe Ruth, so I thought I’d spin it. Probably for the last time.)

In my last communique, I told you about all the Christmas fun I was having. Dammit. Stupid auto correct. Of course, I meant to type “all the really hard, unfun work I’m doing to gather research for the sixth SpyCo novella, Assignment: Dublin.” Because, like I keep telling Craig every time I submit my receipts, this is a brutal grind, but I’m taking one for the team.

At any rate, it’s New Years time now, and if you thought these folks did it up for Christmas (or so I’ve heard), you won’t even believe how they part for New Years (or so I assume.)

6210b223-0f96-4263-bf50-308f8bf299d7
One of the things I’ve noticed is that every holiday seems to bring really beautiful people out of the woodwork. For example, the lovely lady shown above, who may or may not dress like this every day. I forgot to ask. As you can see, she is holding her arms in the international gesture which either means “Celebrate the coming year,” or  “It’s approximately twenty minutes after nine o’clock.” I’m really bad at international gestures, so I’m not sure which.

Folks ’round here really know how to have a good time, but if you want to join them on New Years Eve and also have a really good time, be sure to buy your tickets way in advance, because by December 30 (which happens to be my daughter’s birthday – not related to anything I’m telling you about, but by mentioning it I’m in the running for a sweet “World’s Best Dad” coffee mug), everything is sold out! Fortunately, I bought all my tickets in plenty of time, although if Craig asks all the receipts that say “NYE BASH” actually don’t indicate that I’ve paid to get into a rockin’ New Year’s Eve party. Tell him it’s Gaelic for “Working really really really hard and having absolutely zero fun.” Like these ladies:

d12581d2-8f5d-4937-b30d-dfcd6d80b948

Poor dears. Working so very hard. Just like me. I was very much hoping that as the clock ticked down and midnight approached I might be able to share a New Years smooch with one of them, but as the magical hour came everyone had paired up and there was only one set of lips left unmatched:

crazy-old-women-8
So this may be my final dispatch, as I’m not sure I’m going to survive this encounter. But nonetheless, I’d like to wish everyone the Happiest of New Years, and I encourage you all to stay tuned to this blog and Craig’s VIP Reader’s page for news about the next SpyCo adventure, which promises to be the first blockbuster read of 2018!

Dublin Dispatch #3: Christmas in Dublin

Hello, and Seasons Greetings from Ireland! I’ve yet to be deported! And in spite of the fact that when I thought I heard Craig say, “expense account” he was actually saying “You’re expensive, get out!” I’m still having an insanely good time. Excuse me. Of course what I meant to say was that I’m working extremely hard. While all of you are settling around the fire, or the tree, or the tree on fire or whatever, and sipping your holiday eggnog, I’m researching details for the upcoming SpyCo novella, Assignment: Dublin.

I need to tell you, reader-friends, that Dublin is a town that loves it some Christmas! I attended several lighting ceremonies, and they were amazing! Unlike my birthplace, New York City, where we make a huge deal about the lighting of a single tree, the big one at Rockefeller Center, in Dublin they celebrate throwing the switch in several locations. I managed to snap some lovely pictures at three of these shindigs.

The first was on Henry Street, where I met the beautiful Mother Christmas. I’m pretty sure some lights got turned on at some point. She was lovely though.

be66a3b6-71c9-4c7c-95cb-7435c0219ede

Mother Christmas or Máthair na Nollag, entertaining folks on Henry Street.

I also attended the Dublin At Christmas celebration on Grafton Street, where I encountered this lovely present-headed girl, who was singing, possibly to the crowd, though I’m relatively sure it was just for me.

897d1ae9-c8b3-4fc0-b6ab-ed0884e1fb32

Guess what. “Hey, can I unwrap you?” was not the cleverest thing this lovely performer had ever heard! I was certain it would win her over.

Again, I’m pretty sure that lights got turned on at some point, though I didn’t actually notice as I was fairly busy getting a little bit turned on myself.

Moving right along, at security’s insistence, I came upon the tree lighting on O’Connell Street.

19d18dfb-d461-44f5-aea3-411706624f88

The O’Connell Street tree at the moment its lights came on.

This time my camera accidentally went off in the general direction of the giant tree and I caught this shot at the moment it was lit. I was also pretty lit by this point. (Did I mention there are some lovely pubs at all of these locations?) I’m sure I was actually trying to photograph yet another beautiful Irish woman, but by this point my aim was… let’s call it “questionable.”

6584eecf-a1f2-489f-b4f9-7e1a98b330bb

Kidding aside, Dublin At Christmas does an amazing job of lighting the city and entertaining the folks who flock to see the big moment.

In all honesty, Dublin is a city so in love with the holiday season that they actually have an organization dedicated to it, called Dublin At Christmas, who is the official sponsor of these beautiful displays.

So in review, (because at least one of these locations will likely find its way into the book), I fell in love with Mother Christmas, Present-head, and the wonderful city.

Now let’s hope that our ladies of SpyCo come out of their adventure as relatively unscathed as I have… thus far!

 

The Big Email Boom

209a9c59-541d-40dc-a469-ea36ab6ecd00I use a nifty service called MailChimp, that I heartily endorse to anyone who needs to develop an email subscription list. It’s worked well for me, and I’ve used the free plan since I began using email to market my books. I have absolutely zero complaints with it.

I mentioned a while ago that my writing partner, Craig A. Hart, recently put a link to my email list signup form in one of the mailings to his list, which is substantially larger than mine, and from that I got enough new subscribers to triple my list size in a matter of a few days. Phee-nommm-enalllll!

I got to thinking, however, after sending out my first mailing to the expanded roster, that it would be nice if I could connect with new subscribers automatically, to let them know I’d received their details and that they’d been successfully added to the list, as well as give them a brief taste of what they were in for.

Lo and behold, I found out that MailChimp has a function built right in to automatically send new subscribers a welcome email. “This is cool!” I thought to myself because I was the only person involved in the process who thought it was. Well, I was the only one involved in the process period, if we’re being honest.

Of course in learning how to use this tool, I found a way to mess things up a little, so that it didn’t send a single welcome email, but actually sent a second one the following day. I wasn’t really keen on the idea, feeling like if I heard from a new author that often right off the bat, I might think to myself, “This guy sends too many emails. I’m outta here.” But not knowing what I was doing, I assumed, at least briefly, that it had to be that way. I had to send the second email. The Chimp demanded it.

As I started understanding the process more clearly I realized this wasn’t the case. I could eliminate the second email, and incorporate the one useful aspect of it, (a link to this blog), into the first one. So that’s what I did.

But not before losing a subscriber, presumably for the exact reason I’d feared. They signed up on Thursday, and the day they received the second automated delivery, they opted out.

00brickspalNow, I’m a big boy. I stopped getting my feelings hurt by things like this back in high school when people opted out of your life face to face and it tended to sting a little more. (Sometimes literally, if the girl was a good slapper.) Also, I’ve unsubscribed from a ton of writers’ email lists myself, because to be brutally honest, I’d only subscribed because the author was offering a free book if I did so. After reading the free book I realized the author wasn’t really my cup of [insert your favorite beverage here], and I clicked on the bye-bye link. Other times, it was a case of too many emails coming in, most of which were pretty damn boring. (Mine are not. Mine are insanely entertaining. Or at least insane.)

So I get it. Not everyone is going to stay subscribed. But thanks to Craig’s plug I had an overall subscriber increase of 233%, and of those new readers, and unsubscribe rate of only 2%. I can live with that.

If you haven’t subscribed to the email list yet, you can click here to do so, and of course, if you were to tell all of your friends to do the same, that wouldn’t stink. Especially since I know that all of your friends do everything you tell them to do, thanks to your JFK-like charisma.

 

Ireland Research Dispatch #2

Hi! It’s your old buddy, S.J.V., writing again from the Emerald Isle, which contrary to what you may believe is not a gentleman’s club in Oz, but is a colorful name for Ireland, setting of the upcoming SpyCo novella, Assignment: Dublin. This is day number flrthiflr of my research trip. [Editor’s Note: “flrthiflr” is the sound Scott’s mouth makes when he rubs his hand over it while talking because he can’t actually remember how many days he’s been in Ireland, as he spent the first several touring the pubs of Dublin].

Let me start this installment by asking you a question: What can you find in a nation whose history stretches back a thousand years and whose people used to like to roam around taking over other people’s land, necessitating the building of something that might discourage this sort of behavior?

That’s right! Castles. I would have also accepted “Giant holes filled with hungry wolverines.”

But yeah, castles. Ireland’s got tons of them. Some stand more or less the same as they ever have, some have been painstakingly restored, and some, like my bedroom when I was in high school, are in ruins.

Just for fun, I thought I’d tell you about a couple of them.

02._Ballyloughan_Castle,_Co._Carlow

Photo Credit: VisionsofthePast

This is what’s left of Ballyloughan Castle. It’s a ruined castle located near Bagenalstown and according to Wikipedia, it features one of the finest gatehouses in Ireland. I checked it out, and think meh, as gatehouses go. But that’s me. The architectural style suggests it was built by a Norman lord sometime around 1300 and was likely abandoned in the 14th century probably because it was drafty. Despite its obvious lack of insulation, it was occupied by various Irish clans up until the 19th Century. I’m guessing they were just wandering Bagenalstown and came upon it, telling one another  “There’s no point in letting a perfectly fine, albeit drafty, castle go to waste. Why don’t we occupy it?”

Now we come to Drimnagh Castle, which is located, oddly enough, in the village of Drimnagh. Drimnagh is actually a suburb of Dublin and from all reports is made up of mostly farmland and what the Irish lovingly refer to as hovels. Sound’s homey, doesn’t it? The castle itself is pretty sweet and has had a ton of restoration completed, The photo to the right was taken around 1900 when the castle was a young and strapping 684 years old or so. I hope I look this good when I’m 684! This old place is doing so well that you can rent it now as a venue for weddings and “other events.” Anybody else thinking what I’m thinking: all-night kegger?

Doolin_-_Doonagore_Castle_-_panoramio

Photo Credit: Postdlf from w

I’m going to conclude our brief tour with Doonagore Castle, to my way of thinking one of your more “castle-y” looking castles. Being not quite as old as some of the others we know that it was built around 1500 by a fellow with the altogether fantastic name MacTurlough O’Conner. [Note to self: Name next goldfish MacTurlough O’Conner.] The name Doonagore is possibly derived from Dún na Gabhair, which means either “the fort of the rounded hills,” or, and I am not making this up, “fort of the goats.” You know which it would have been if I’d been giving the job of naming the place. What stands today is essentially a tower house and a bawn, or walled enclosure, and it is privately owned by people who use it as a summer house and who don’t let you get any closer than this if you want to take its picture.

dublin coverThis is all very interesting on its own, but perhaps even more so because there is a good chance that a castle might figure into the storyline of Assignment: Dublin. Maybe even one of these, who knows?

My closing observation on all of the castles of Ireland, in general, is that none serve beer, so I’m heading back to Dublin to find someplace that does.

Full-Fledged Announcement

Recently my writing partner Craig A. Hart, who magnanimously opted not to kill me after I leaked certain details about our next book, revealed the cover of said next book, essentially letting me off the hook altogether. Take a look:

 

dublin cover

SpyCo #6 is in progress!

 

 

Pretty jazzy, huh? Notice anything?

If you take a look at any of the previous SpyCo covers you’ll always see the outline of a man included in the design. This time it’s two women. What can this mean?

It means that the women of SpyCo are running the show this time! And let me tell you, they’ve got their hands full. What starts out as a routine training mission becomes anything but routine as Lyndsey, Adabelle, and Charlie face one of the most fiendish figures in the world of international espionage.

And while all three are featured, one question remains: will all three survive?

In the past, we’ve done all of our research digitally, but this time, to ensure authenticity I hopped a big ol’ jet airliner bound for Ireland, all on my Hart/Varengo expense account, and am collecting research first hand, which I’ll be sharing with you in upcoming blog posts. No amount of money has been spared to bring you the best reading experience possible for Assignment: Dublin, although you probably shouldn’t mention that part to Craig. In fact, definitely don’t.

I began my research with an exhaustive survey of the pubs of Dublin, and then when I regained consciousness, I found that I’d misplaced my notes and so had to visit them all again. After three such attempts, I was able to snap the following picture, taken at St. James’s Gate, Dublin:

Guinness-Storehouse-4

It was, after my wife on our wedding day and the birth of my two children, the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

Stay tuned for more exciting reports!

 

Some Things I Can Tell You…

… others must remain unspoken.

What are your talking about, you lunatic? (Don’t you just love it when I read your mind and ask the question you were thinking?

I’m talking about the conversation that took place earlier today between myself and a certain author from Iowa City, namely my writing partner on the SpyCo thriller series, Craig A. Hart.

What did we talk about? (See? I did the psychic thing again). Well, some of it I can tell you about… for example his newly revamped website, which you can check out for yourself by clicking this link. For those of you who find link-clicking onerous, I’m including a screen capture of the top of his homepage, which will no doubt overcome your “clickophobia.” (For those keeping track that is word invention #3 for calendar-year 2017.)

craigahart

You want to click that link now, don’t you? Here’s a secret: the picture is also a link! Oh, and for the record, yes, that is me playing the part of James Burke in the picture. Ruggedly handsome, wouldn’t you say?

AKWe also talked about the upcoming release of SpyCo #5, Assignment: Alaska. I took a break from working on this one, but I still recommend that when it drops on December 15, you grab your copy. There is even a way you can get it for free. Here’s the post from Craig’s VIP Readers Facebook page:

Guess what’s coming VERY soon? (Dec. 15!!!)

That’s right, a new Assignment is on the way. And it’s even Christmas themed! But here’s the BEST news. You can have it for FREEEEE! How? Leave a review for the first Assignment: Adventure collection and then email me a link (craig@craigahart.com) to your review. Then you will be placed on a list of lucky ducks who will receive a free copy of Alaska as soon as it hits retailers!

ADVENTURE BOOK: https://www.amazon.com/Assignment-Adventure-SpyCo-Collection-1-3-ebook/dp/B077GC1P2R/ — feeling crazy!

That is an offer that only a mentally deficient frog-groomer would pass up. [Editor’s note: If you are a mentally deficient frog-groomer, the author meant to say “fig-groper,” if you are a fig-groper, the opposite.] And it is open to anyone, even if you’re not a member for the VIP Readers Group, though once again, if you’re not I have to seriously call your overall quality of life into question. (You can find a link to the group on Craig’s website, and you can join, thereby decreasing your lameness by over 83%). (You can find a link to Craig’s website above, remember?)

ireland-flagFinally we got around to the subject of… oh wait. This is the part I can’t tell you about. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to drop you a couple of subtle hints, however, which I can neither confirm nor deny. We might have talked about SpyCo #6, which may once again feature the Hart/Varengo writing team, and may be set in a place where drinking stout is a regular occurrance. (No, it is not set in my house!) There is also a chance that the cover, if said book actually happens, may feature the colors green and orange. (Trivia: Mr. Hart always designs SpyCo covers with the flag colors of the nation (or state, in the case of AK,) in which the book is set.) And there is another big twist… which I am absolutely not revealing at this time, but will flavor the entire story… assuming said story even exists, which I categorically deny. Or confirm.

hide-and-seek-funny-kids-23

Me, in hiding. I’ll be fine.

I’ve said too much. Craig is going to kill me. I can’t even lie and tell you he never reads my blog, because he has a link to it on his website, so he might accidentally click on it from time to time.

At any rate, my life is now in danger and I’m going to have to go into hiding for a while. And while I’m in hiding I may or may not be writing exciting books for you to read. With the guy who’s trying to kill me. Maybe.