Wednesday, November 28, 2012


We all want to be liked. And if someone will praise you and then that accolade helps to make money, all the better. Reviews are tough to get in the writing business, with half a gazillion books published every year, and ALL of them wanting to be in the New York Times book section, Oprah, Phil, Good Morning America, Good Night America, and even Horse and Hound, it’s no wonder the frustration. Reviews in Amazon move you up the food chain; more reviews = more eyeballs, and we beg for eyeballs.

But reviews are paid for in some form or another. Most are never done out of the kindness of the heart or sympathy (the mercy review comes to mind). “I’ll do your book if you do mine,” is common. My blog post for yours is the boost we all need. If a blogger foolishly says send me your books for review, they will be electronically submerged for years after just the first week, we writers all so desperately need reviews. Probably some form of conditioning from when we were kids, “Yes, Greggie, you have been a good boy, have a cookie.”

“No damn it, I want a six figure book deal, Mom. Pleeease!

Now that that’s out of the way, we can move on. Yes I occasionally pay for (wait for it) a book review, it’s easier than begging and many of these reviewers all well-known and respected. Prices can run from free (wait three months), $50.00 Readers Favorite and upwards to whole packages like Kirkus Reviews for hundreds of dollars. But they do read the books and (outside of some much needed editing on their own writing) well done. They do not promise five stars but they do promise a fair read.

Now to my point: Below is my first review of 12th Man For Death, as others arrive I will bore you or tease you with their praise and adulation. Yes, Mother, I will gladly take a cookie and the book deal.

Rating: 5.0 stars

Reviewed by Alice DiNizo for Readers Favorite

Private investigator Sharon O'Mara returns in this spell-binding thriller "12th Man for Death" by author Gregory Randall. Catherine Voss has developed a trimaran that she knows will do well in the upcoming America’s Cup Race. It can be handled by a single person; it is affordable and has a new finish that will shed water well. Catherine sails her invention across San Francisco Bay in heavy fog and ends up dead, drowned in her boat's rigging. Her trimaran which she calls "The Cheetah" is found with a hole in its starboard hull. Catherine's gorgeous twin, Jean-Francoise, aka JF, is convinced that Catherine was murdered and hires Sharon O'Mara to investigate. But "The Cheetah" is missing. The more she investigates, the more flashbacks she has to her time as an Army lieutenant in Iraq in 2005. Back then, she and fellow soldiers looked into a possible kidnapping of two little girls, which wasn't what it seemed. "The 12th Man" is the almost nonexistent seat in the middle of the crossbeam of a boat's stern and with this case, Sharon feels as though she is the 12th man on a racing crew.

"12th Man for Death" by Gregory Randall is a well-written thriller that will captivate readers everywhere. It is filled throughout with great action, drama and suspense. Sharon O'Mara is a great central character, tough but sexy and all woman. Readers will enjoy other characters such as police detective Kevin Bryan, the delightful, elderly pseudo Frenchman Alain and his granddaughter Claudette, JF, Ellis Turner and her assistant Eva Krug who once served in South Africa in its security forces. They are all believable characters that come to life on the pages of the story. The plot proceeds with breath-taking twists and turns to the story's last page. So, thriller fans everywhere, don't miss "The 12th Man for Death" whatever you do!

More later . . . . . .

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Blog Hop – Carpe Diem

I have been invited by a writer friend, Leisa Watkins (I believe writing as L.T. Bentley), to jump into the newest marketing tool added to the self-publishing quiver, The Blog Hop. The idea is to spread the word of your blog and your writing via links to other blogs. Like an electronic chain letter – without the stamps. All you are required to do is pass it on. Please check out Leisa's blog.

In addition, this is a way for new readers of our blogs to find out more about you the author and the stories your write. To my long time readers this may even provide a bit more about me and my work. To new friends – welcome aboard.

This is my 99th blog here at Writing4Death and has been a weekly part of my creative life, I also write a professional blog where I whine and complain about all things urban and where I also get to talk about one of my favorite subjects – cities. Check it out HERE.

My recent books are listed to the right and left of this blog, all were a joy to write and produce for you readers to enjoy. Self-publishing is not for the faint of heart, there is a lot to get into, more than a sane person should try and do. Now you know the story of my life, always pushing the envelope. If there is one aspect that I like about this new world of publishing is that everything you see is my work – any compromises are mine not a publishing house pushing something down your throat.

Me? I like to tell stories, deeply involved studies of people and how they react to or confront problems. Whether it’s losing a job, like my main character Sharon O’Mara did in Book One, where she had to reinvent her own life as a facilitator like Travis McGee, or in my novels where it’s the weather (i.e. farming) or war that forces people to grow and change. It is this interaction of an exterior applied force and human reaction that makes good stories.

An important part of the Blog Hop is the interview. Ten questions and ten answers – simple? You sit down and try it; if you are a writer, or are thinking about it, fill in the blanks and start a whole new life. Go for it!

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:
What is the working title of your book?
My newest book, just released this month, is 12th Man For Death. It is the fourth book in the Sharon O’Mara Chronicles.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I am always looking for topical events in my stories and with the America’s Cup sailboat race and competition on San Francisco Bay this past year and through October of 2013, I thought it would be a great backdrop to a murder-thriller. The venues for these races are in magical cities around the world from New Zealand to Venice, and I could never pass up Venice as one of the sets for the book.

What genre does your book fall under?
Mary McCormack
It is a thriller/detective/mystery with a big dose of style and travel thrown in. This is typical to the last three books in the series. I have put China, Paris, Venice, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and even brief stops in New York and London in these books. As well as fashion and where do you hide that Beretta under that dress?

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I have pegged Mary McCormack as my ideal Sharon O’Mara, after her great work in In Plain Sight, she is perfect with her attitude, style and look. As my detective Kevin Bryan, the guy I like (even if he’s six inches shorter than Bryan) is, and I kid you not, Jason O’Mara, just like my hero Sharon last name. His work could be seen on Life on Mars, the ill-fated Terra Nova, and now Vegas with Dennis Quaid.

Jason O'Mara
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Rich boys and their toys . . . and death.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
We have our own self-publishing company that has now produced four thrillers, one novel and one non-fiction history book (all available on-line through Amazon and Smashwords). I like the freedom and the opportunities that self-publishing allows. Knowing that you can offer your stories to a market keeps me writing. Now, making money is a whole different business plan.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I am very disciplined about my writing, it usually take six months to write an O’Mara book, two months to rework the first draft and a six weeks for final editing (and yes, I still have a day job). So it takes about ten months total (that includes cover art, book design, and ebook construction). So I bring out a new title every ten months or so.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
My books are lighter and more fun than Nelson DeMille and Michael Connolly, but Connolly uses LA like it was a stage and I use San Francisco and the Bay Area (with international destinations thrown in) the same way. My books are, if you will excuse the comparison, very Bondish but with a female character who has attitude issues, a few bad habits she is trying to quit, good friends that help when they can, and above all a dog that is by far and away a girl’s best friend. I also see her as a Travis McGee character with quirky friends, attitude, and a world view.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I have always dabbled in writing, short stories and such. But the idea for the first book. Land Swap For Death, started maybe twenty years ago; I was in the Embarcadero BART Station (San Francisco rapid-transit), and watched a bum hustle the crowd for money. It struck me as a good place to start a story that led to a book, a new literary character, and now four books and another in production.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The travel side of the stories and how the texture of the city or countryside becomes a part of the book. I have been to all these places (except China and thank goodness for Google Earth) and have distinct memories that I can translate into a book. These are also stories about a woman who was lost until she joined the army. There she developed police skills (she was an MP) and an independence that has allowed her to set up her own business. She is a facilitator, like John D. McDonald’s Travis McGee, who is hired by clients to clear up problems they may have. She helped discover and resolve issues such a fake handbags, kidnapped Chinese girls, a murdered businessman, the return of paintings stolen by the Nazis, and the death of an America’s Cup skipper. 

Please visit these blogs for a little bit more about the world of writing:

If you want to be included in our next Hop, send me an email at and we will get right back to you. Put “Blog Hop” in the subject line please.

All the best, be thankful for your friends and family, have a great holiday, and for once this year don’t think about tomorrow, just enjoy the day.


More later . . . .

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

We Are Live – And A Review of Winter of the World

No scarier words are spoken in TV and in books. Live! Everything is now real, no holds, what you see is what you get, just the facts Ma’am.

12th MAN FOR DEATH is now available at Amazon Kindle, and will be exclusively for the next 90 days. During this time, if you join Amazon Prime, you can download the book for free – just like borrowing the book from the library. My beta buyers say it looks great, so just click the cover right and away you go on a great adventure from San Francisco to Baghdad and Venice. Even if I do say so myself; it is a fun and quite interesting yarn.

Within the next few weeks the book will also be available through Amazon and CreateSpace as a paperback. Stay tuned here for the announcement.

A taste of the story can be found on the header above, just click on 12th Man For Death Chapters 1 & 2 and you will be instantly transported to the cold waters of San Francisco Bay and the ride of your life. Go ahead; I know you want to do it, just click. It won’t hurt.

By the way all the Sharon O’Mara books are available as ebooks at Amazon, give them all a read - and recommend them to your friends.

Book Review – Winter of the World
As a writer it is important to read other works by great and near-great writers (as well as the popular ones too). This keeps you grounded in your genre (i.e. thriller, detective, history, romance, etc.) as well as adding to your knowledge of the craft through others and their writing. Read for story, structure, tempo, language, style, and most especially satisfaction.

I have just completed Ken Follett’s Winter of the World, Book Two in the Century Trilogy. Mr. Follett’s stories please me. They are like going to the movies to see an epic tale that take hours to unfold, with hundreds of characters and dozens of scenes in exotic places. You sit back and allow the story to roll over you, movies like Exodus (Leon Uris), Ben-Hur (Lew Wallace-1880!), and Titanic (even though there is only one real setting – the North Atlantic). Mr. Follett accomplishes the same in Winter of the World.

The time span extends over the mid-1930s through to the conclusion of World War Two. We travel from Buffalo to London, Moscow, Berlin and Spain and many points between, following the multi-generational follies and triumphs of a mixture of upper and lower class Americans and their strangely connected relatives in England, Germany and Russia.

The primary characters (too many to mention – which is typical to Follett’s work) morph, evolve, and mature (and seem to have sex regularly) through these ten years. From the destruction of the Reichstag to the dropping of the atomic bombs – no ten years in world history have been so wrenchingly brutal on civilization. With the exception of a short chapter that takes place on December 7, 1941, most of the tangled story takes place in Europe. Follett is the writer looking over the shoulder of dark history as it walks the abattoirs of Hitler’s world. You are engaged from page one hundred, sadly the first chapters are a bit slow and as dozens of characters are thrown in your face, it is easy to get lost. It's a lot like going to your friend’s family reunion, too many faces and names, yet you do finally get the hang of them, eventually.

It is a study in manners and morals, style and substance (or lack of), and the perverse results of power and fear. He has developed a huge cast of characters that flow from his first book in the trilogy, Fall of Giants, and has prepared us for the last book. I cannot wait, but sadly will have to.

More Later. . . . .

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Coming To An Apple Mini Near You

It is almost time to push the send and publish button. 12th Man For Death is edited, corrected, recrafted for Amazon ebook/Kindle, as well as ready for the printer. It is a great story and readers will get a humorous kick out of it. I published parts of the first chapter two weeks ago and have posted the first two chapters in the above header, enjoy.

We're trying a new venture with this book and it will transfer through the three previous O’Mara Chronicles. All the books will go through CreateSpace for printing. CreateSpace is an owned subsidiary of Amazon that provides printed books through the Amazon book website. It is a print-on-demand (POD) house that will print and send the book as it is ordered through Amazon (I have also been told that they can provide books to bookstores as well). We have previously worked with a printer in Los Angeles, who did very good work, but with the cost of sending books to us, then to the customer (person or store), the cost of the shipping alone was more than the cost to print the book. CreateSpace and Amazon charge the buyer and since the book is printed when needed, there is no warehousing and the book is always available. And there is no cost to us – which is very cool.

The goal of our publishing house, Windsor Hill Publishing, is to find ways of getting our books to as many customers as we can through as many routes as possible. There are two dominant ways of getting the book to the reader, POD and ebooks. With CreateSpace, the printed book becomes readily available and can be quickly adjusted or reedited (by emailing a new pdf file) as needed. With ebooks, it’s instantaneous. Post the file in the appropriate formatted Word file in Kindle/Amazon and within a day, there you are. Anyone can be a published author.

We are also going to try a few new things to gin-up business and buzz about the books. For the first ninety days the ebook will be available through the Kindle library – that’s right you can borrow the book and not have to buy it (we get a few cents from Amazon for this effort). You do need to have the Kindle app on you Apple iPad or Mini, or obviously a Kindle in one of its various forms. I will post here the info as soon as it is ready. The print version will also be available and is not a part of this library ebook program.

We are extremely excited about this new move. What we do need are readers and fans of Sharon O’Mara. Here are a couple of ideas for the holidays, when you buy someone a Kindle or Apple Mini, load Sharon’s books as an additional part of the gift. (the first three are available now at Amazon – see right and click away). Within a few weeks the paperback books will be available, purchase then and they make a great stocking stuffer. We will also have a contest sometime in January where the winner will win a box set of all four books, maybe it’s a treasure hunt, maybe something else, not sure.

And one more thing, if you would be so kind as to send this blog address to five or more of your best friends so they can share in the fun excitement of 12th Man For Death.

More Later . . . . . .