Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What A Year, Next Will Be Even Better

It has been exactly one year since the start of this blog. During that time I posted schedules (that were met or exceeded), covers (that were often revised - a lot), edits (revised - even a lot more), and eventually the final product. Over 35,000 words. Containers 4 Death was published during this time and Toulouse 4 Death was written, edited, and published. And now we are working on the next in the O'Mara Chronicles. And BTW, Elk River, my novel was published. So many words, so little time.

This next year looks just as promising. I'm almost 20,000 words into the next adventure that focuses on Sharon's efforts to help find the cause of a mysterious death prior to the America's Cup race in San Francisco Bay. And remember she hates sailboats. So far it's great, but then again I'm biased.

I am also outlining my next novel. It's ten years later in the orchards of northern Michigan. 1966 was the beginning of change in America. Social causes, the Vietnam War, politics, woman's rights, the SDS, everything was thrown into the air. How or where they would land raised fear and mistrust between the generations, even within a wholesome family called Smith.

I am also proud to announce that Toulouse 4 Death is now in paperback. It will be available by February 5 through Amazon. But if you are impatient, drop me an email at, and we will see that you get a copy - it's $18.00 and includes all shipping and handling.


More Later . . . .

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Toulouse 4 Death -- The Movie

Well, really the book trailer for my new thriller Toulouse 4 Death. Why we do these things - book trailers - I'm not sure. A bit of the herd mentality, since everyone does it, so why not? But they are a lot of fun to pull together and they do help to market the book, a little.

Click on the image - which is an actual photo of billions of Nazi gold in a cave under Germany and that's a real American GI standing amongst the treasure.

My goal is to tease the viewer into buying the book, or at least explore the possibility a little more that just looking at the cover. There is more to tell than just that.

I have posted book trailers for all the 4 Death books, Land Swap, Containers, and now Toulouse. When you go to Toulouse the others will pop-up (there's also a nice tour of our garden in the spring - called Windsor Hill, our publishing company was named after the garden).

Enjoy, and I would really like to hear your comments, so feel free to add them below.

This is the URL if the video doesn't open.

More Later . . . .

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

First Reviews Are In for Toulouse 4 Death

There is nothing waited for and feared by an author than the first reviews. Like Broadway plays, they set the initial height of the bar, if low the expectations are for better, too high and only future disappointments wait. But if it’s a good, middle-of-the-road, with an optimistic air, review, then “the future is so bright that I’ll have to wear shades.”

Well, Readers Favorite posted the following:
"Toulouse 4 Death" by Gregory Randall is the third in the series of mysteries featuring resilient Sharon O’Mara, insurance investigator and ex-military police officer. As usual she gets help along the way from friend and detective Kevin Bryan. In this exciting, historically based story, the action centres on valuable artwork stolen by the Nazis from their Jewish owners shortly before the Second World War. Three American soldiers help themselves to a few pictures, including a stunning piece by Toulouse-Lautrec, and stash them away in a secret hiding place. One of them, Alain Dumont, believing both his comrades to be dead, returns to France after the war and collects the treasures. Now, approaching death, he wants to return the paintings to their rightful owners and asks Sharon to accomplish this for him. However, there are some powerful people who don’t want that to happen.

This is a fast-paced, contemporary thriller with an authentic, well-researched plot that is full of twists and turns, yet remains plausible. There is an interesting cast of characters, all rounded and unique. Sharon is a driving force throughout the book and a catalyst for the exhilarating action. The author is a great storyteller and has a gift with language. For example, when Dumont refers to his memory loss, he says his thoughts “run away like small children and hide”. Beautiful.

And this remark from a friend:
I couldn’t put it down, I loved it. The characters and the story, it made my vacation. I even finished it at the airport as I was heading home.”

For those of you in the know, I call these O’Mara Chronicles, “Flyers.” Books just long enough to read half on the way to Chicago and half on the way back, say 4 to 6 hours. We all start a book on vacation, how many do we finish? “I’ll get back to it,” we say promising ourselves. Yet there it sits, with its thick brothers and sisters, continually reminding us of our truancy (The Kindle-Nook crowd are spared this, theirs are hidden in aluminum and plastic covers, the digital age allows us to now hide our shortcomings).

I am now into the fourth Sharon O’Mara Chronicle. So far she has accumulated almost 200,000 words telling of her adventures, friends, and enemies (a sizable book in its own right). Every day, as I begin to slam keys and the space bar, I wonder what she will next whisper in my ear. What adventure will she foist on me? What untold memory will she allow me to share? What dark secret will she hint at?

This redhead, unlike the other one in my life, drives me to distraction. She’s bitchy, opinionated, the mouth of a soldier, carries a gun, smart, drinks a little too much scotch, drive a Jaguar, smokes Marlboros, and looks great in a black dress. Obviously she’s the girl every father dreads that his son will bring home.

The new book is underway, and like Toulouse 4 Death, I am setting the schedule now, no title yet but there is a strong and timely Bay Area backstory.

So here we go:
         February 1, 2012                20,000 words
         April 1, 2012                      40,000 words
         June 1, 2012                       60,000 words
         August 1, 2012                   Completed manuscript
         August                                Editing
         September 15, 2012            eBook
         October 15, 2012                Paperback

I beat last year’s schedule for Toulouse 4 Death while also publishing Elk River. And even though I have the sequel to Elk River in development, Sharon will continue to whisper in my ear.

More Later . . . .

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Tale of Two Loose Covers

I was very happy with the cover for Toulouse 4 Death; it had a touch of the story and the ongoing 4 Death motif (the target). It was a result of an evolution over the last six months. A comment here and there helped to modify and revise the look. Then . . . Joel Friedlander offered an off-the-cuff comment about the quality of the Iron Cross image. “It’s not that good of an image, you can do better,” he said. He was right, it can be better.

I had scammed an image of the Iron Cross off the Internet, and yes the quality was bad but it worked, to a point. For an image the size of a postage stamp on the Amazon sell page it would be fine but on a book’s cover, a real book, it was awful. How to fix it? Where can you find an Iron Cross these days and not be a part of a skinhead group, motorcycle gang, or an ex-Nazi officer (didn’t happen to know any in this part of California). Again the internet and voila, a Chinese company,, makes replicas of uniforms and insignias of German World War II materials. I had the replica in less than two weeks – but it’s all kind of creepy. You can outfit yourself as a Field General in the Waffen SS, and they will tailor it to you; again, very creepy. But then again China will reproduce anything; all you need is a PayPal account.

A quick photograph, a little bit of photoshop work and reinsertion on the layer and the result is a much better image and a higher quality cover.
Old Cover

New Cover
The image on the top is the old cover, the one on the bottom is the new cover. The same but very different. Also note that the shadowing was made more transparent, more realistic.

The cover, even as an ebook, is critical to the marketing of your book. This also includes the typeface selected for the title and the author name, as well as the back of the book. It’s all about catching the eye of the buyer and then making them linger for at least a minute as they discover the story in the blurbs, reviews, and maybe even a few lines from the book. It’s all a tease and a promise. The tease gets them to buy, the promise is the quality of the story. The cover should reflect this.

The Back and Spine
Next week the schedule for the new book that is underway. You will love it!!

More later . . . .