New Release!

If we were trying to have coffee today I’d no doubt be all excited! It’s release day for my latest novel. PENUMBRA.

Some people make a big deal about release day. For me it is a bit anticlimactic…okay, it’s official. Distribution is a little wonky today too. This month my publisher is expanding the print copies into a new supplier. We have been exclusively Amazon for a while. Now Amazon will provide print copies sold on its platform and the new supplier will be able to more easily provide copies to bookstores and libraries.

Of course with anything new, the publisher had no real guidance into how long the new books would be in limbo. When they are available, they’ll be available. To make matters worse, the print copies on Amazon are delayed as well.

It’s a good thing I didn’t plan anything big for release day. Today’s big “release” activity? I cut the grass!

Ah, but you can still buy the Kindle edition today. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08D7267W7/

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Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina. Check out his web page at http://thefensk.com

BookReview: Blacktop Wasteland

blacktopwastelandI don’t do a lot of reviews on this blog, but this reminds me that I really should do more.

I just finished reading Blacktop Wasteland by Shawn Cosby. I received a free electronic copy provided by the publisher (Flatiron Books) and this is my honest review.

I’ve known Shawn for only a short while. I first met him at a local “Noir At The Bar” event where we were both sharing readings for the crowd. I told my wife at the time I thought he was the best writer there. Now that I’ve finally read Blacktop Wasteland, I’m happy to report that my first impression was right on the money.

To say I liked Blacktop Wasteland would be an understatement. I loved it. The book is crime fiction and it is a gritty and realistic example of that genre. I write mostly mysteries. These two genres are cousins, and they both give the reader a peek at similar issues, but each uses a different focus. My experience with mysteries provided a good backdrop for enjoying this story because so many aspects of it were sub-mysteries of their own.

Cosby waltzes around plot structures in both standard and unique ways, the way Fred Astaire could dance an amazing solo, but then pull a mop into the mix and make you think the mop was dancing just as well as he was. Cosby makes effective use of flashbacks as well, and they weave in and out of the story the way Beauregard weaves in and out of the mess he has made for himself.

I am wary to share too many details because I in no way want to spoil this story for you, but in short, Beau has done his best to put a criminal past behind him and forge a family life on the straight and narrow. But the universal truth “life is hard” rears its ugly head and he figures just one more “job” might provide the easy money he needs to right his ship for clear sailing.

Then another more pertinent universal truth pops up: there is no such thing as “easy money.” It’s a deep well and Cosby effectively plumbs the depths of that well just until you think it can’t go any deeper, but you have to keep feeding the line because neither he nor Beau has reached the bottom yet.

Blacktop Wasteland is fast-paced and the plot employs a sinister intricacy that slides into your brain the way your feet can slide into a comfortable pair of old slippers. But don’t get too relaxed … you will need to strap on your reading comprehension hat real tight because even the tiniest of details may pop up to surprise you later. Cosby zinged me in this way several times and even made me laugh out loud more than once.

Be warned, the book is about lowlife individuals who lurk on the dark edges of society, so there is a bit a language, but I thought he used a measured amount that fit the dialogue. It’s a crime thriller so there’s violence too. If you are turned off by either of these I’d have to say, everything fits the story and this story is well worth reading on so many other levels. At the least, you should revel in experiencing this breakout novel of a gifted writer.

As a writer myself, I want to hate Shawn because I don’t need this kind of competition, but I can’t hate him, not at all, simply because I love his insight and skill so much. Look for Blacktop Wasteland in mid-July. If you can catch him reading at a bookstore or a local “Noir At The Bar” — catch him there, his readings are not to be missed. I’ll finish by just saying: WOW! Just WOW! A well-deserved Five Stars!

I’m sure it will be sold all over the place but an Amazon link is easiest right now … put this on your TBR list. Blacktop Wasteland.

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Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina. His most recent novel, THE HAG RIDER, is available at Amazon. Be on the lookout for his mystery thriller PENUMBRA, coming in August.

Are You Feeling Lucky?

what's so lucky about lucky strike_What’s so lucky about Lucky Strike?  Considering the theme of vengeance and the ensuing deep-seated criminal conspiracy, not so much.  In fact, we see several crimes in the pages, including threats, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, torture, and murder. What’s it all about?  Well, that is the big question, isn’t it?

The story doesn’t depend entirely on information from the previous two books in the Traces of Treasure series, but having that firm background certainly doesn’t hurt.  Of course, Sam Milton returns along with his paramour Smidgeon Toll.  Lance Norton, one of the main characters in the second book, is part of the story as well. The story also introduces an old lawman, a private investigator named Mule Hollis, who is following a parallel trail that leads directly to our heroes.

Still, I think a fledgling reader can enjoy the book as a stand-alone but here is a brief primer. The first book involves Sam Milton’s long obsession with a lost Gold Mine. As he becomes increasingly desperate, he gets careless and the book follows his struggles with the situations he finds himself in. The second book follows up with a seeming curse that throws a cloud over all the characters and introduces several ghostly associates who have a deep interest in what transpires, as one person after another falls victim to a hidden killer.

So much happened in the second book, it had to have made the news.  The bad thing about news coverage is that it sometimes attracts unwanted attention.  That’s what happens in Lucky Strike and the repercussions are profound.

An innocent search for some answers to what at first seems to be a small mystery results in a series of desperate acts and the villainous activities eventually involve everyone as they all scramble to make some sense of the situation.

Wait. What about the ghosts?  They’re back as well, but they are also confused by the dire situation.

Various twists and turns lead Smidgeon on a long quest from Texas to North Carolina,  collecting a confusing array of clues she must somehow piece together.

All the while a mysterious stranger creates havoc as he follows his own trail of vengeance, crime, and destruction.

Add it all up and … well, it doesn’t sound too lucky, does it?
Do you think you can figure it out?
Feeling lucky?

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Find out for yourself … experience the Traces of Treasure

Book 3: Lucky Strike
Book 2: A Curse That Bites Deep
Book 1: The Fever

All three are available in both eBook and Paperback and they are also available on KindleUnlimited.

The Story So Far …

Thomas Fenske (1)As we progress into fall I always fall back to the basic plot of my debut novel, The Fever.  It starts at just about this time of year.  Sam Milton, the main character, is hiking out of the desert on a cool October night, lamenting his failure to find his elusive goal.

As we find out, his search in the far reaches of western Texas is complicated by fears of the unpredictable weather so he limits himself to a few months in the Spring and a few months in the Fall.  He’s ready to hang it up for the year, and as his frustrations mount, perhaps forever.

Then, by chance, a friend’s casual observation puts everything right back on the front burner.  That’s what the story is really about, pitting his obsession against his worries about changes in the weather.  And the story does not disappoint.  One reader told me she had to get up and put on a sweater during a described winter storm Sam endures during his quest.

The stories are set in the 1980s, so there is no instant access to weather reports, and no way to call in air support if things get dicey, and he’s traveling through a sparsely-populated area, so even the car radio is unreliable.

So, that’s why I think this is a great time of year for you to walk a few miles in Sam’s dusty boots. Take a chance, maybe you can solve the cryptic riddle along with Sam. But I have to warn you, like Sam, you will no doubt catch THE FEVER.

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If you want to explore Thomas Fenske’s world, peek into the Traces of Treasure Series … Book 1 is The Fever, Book 2 is A Curse That Bites Deep, and Book 3 is Lucky Strike.  If you’re hungry, the companion cookbook might strike your fancy as well.

WeekendCoffee Video

coffeeshareIf we were having coffee today, I’d pull out my phone and show you my latest book trailer.

You’d probably say something like, “Book trailer? You mean, like a bookmobile?”

LuckyStrike-WEBNo, it is a video promotion for my upcoming book release.  Book trailers were all the rage a couple of years ago, but I haven’t noticed too many of them recently.  I have two trailers for both of my other books, one I bought, the other three I cobbled together. The first one I put together myself was made by putting tother music and text in a PowerPoint presentation.  I made the last two using the same app I used this time. Like I said, all of them have just been cobbled together.

It’s a good metaphor.  Generally, I gather a number of static images that hopefully relate to various themes in the book, then assemble them together with brief phrases that hopefully convey content.  I can’t take credit for the production. It’s all part of an app on my iPhone called iMovie.  The music, the backgrounds, and all the timing is part of a “trailer template” they offer.

The “free use” photos I used were chosen because I thought they reflected aspects of specific book content. I began by inserting them into the template. There were already words in the storyboard but those are easy to replace. You have to be careful with content as the splash phrases need to fit together but you can’t be too wordy or the text size is reduced. Brevity also helps with visual appeal … a viewer has to be able to read it quickly. You can play it at any time while to see if it works or if you need to tweak.  There is a lot of tweaking. I try not to overthink it.  Most of my tweaking is with the text content.

I don’t know that any of my trailers have generated sales, but I have to admit that they are a lot of fun to put together.  With the book release coming up, I’m excited to have it up on youtube to use in pre-release promotion.  You know, like this posting!

Oh, the link!  View my trailer here:  https://youtu.be/yMXbZoBdIx8
Be sure to leave feedback and if you like it share it!

How about you? Did you do anything creative this week?

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Thomas Fenske is a writer living in NC.
His latest novel, LUCKY STRIKE, is coming out in a few weeks.
Get more information on it and his other works at http://thefensk.com

WeekendCoffee Genre Rebrand?

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.com

If we were having coffee today I might just mention cozy mysteries. Up until yesterday, I didn’t even really know what the term cozy mysteries meant. A reader asked me why I didn’t market my books as cozy mysteries. They were, she said, a pretty close match to the genre.

I’ve struggled with genre ever since I considered publishing.  These ideas came to me and I worked them through a believable story arc.  I polished them.  Worked out the kinks.  A publisher got interested.  Nobody ever mentioned cozy mysteries.

I did a little research.  I’ll admit, The Fever is a stretch, but still, it’s almost there.  I’d call it a quirky take-off on the genre. Nobody dies after the initial hook. But the hero is an amateur sleuth of sorts and he has to work through solving his mystery, with whatever help he can find.  Like I said, I guess it’s a stretch but as a lead-in to the series, it does set the stage.

Ah, but A Curse That Bites Deep fits right into the genre.  I think.  And the third book does too … but you’ll have to take my word on that.  So, I have to wonder, have I suddenly stumbled upon something here?  Sure, they might be sitting in the far left-field corner of the genre, but I think they are still in the ballpark.

If you like cozy mysteries, I honestly think you might like these books.  They’re probably not quite like any other cozy mysteries you’ve read but you don’t seriously want them ALL exactly like one another, do you?  The stories are comfortable and quirky and the characters and situations are down to earth and believable.  Give them a try and let me know.

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Thomas Fenske is quite possibly a cozy mystery writer.  http://thefensk.com

Shoutout Sunday

It’s not just me, others are catching THE FEVER too.

Books by Marianne Reese

My Shoutout this week goes to author Thomas Fenske. I caught the reading fever from his book ‘The Fever’. Here is my five-star review:

I had the “I can’t stop reading this book” fever! An enjoyable read with a great storyline.

The protagonist, Sam, is obsessed with the lore of a gold mine and spends countless days/hours in his quest to find it. The characters were all likable, and I loved the uniqueness of their names.

This story is a reminder of how catching ‘the fever’ can consume your life, impact your relationships, and affect your moral compass. It also touches on the preparation needed when delving into an expedition full of unknowns.

Here are links to Thomas Fenske’s Amazon Author site and web-site:

https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Fenske/e/B0184BAVFU/

https://thomasfenske.wordpress.com/

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You Snooze, You Lose

For the first time ever, I’m running a “countdown sale” on my novel, A CURSE THAT BITES DEEP.

Friday January 12 …. it’s 99 Cents! That’s 75% off, folks!

Saturday January 13 it goes up to $1.99, still a great bargain.

Sunday January 14, it will be $2.99, but still a good deal at 25% off.

Price reverts Monday. You snooze, you lose.

Murder, mayhem, suspense, a little romance, and ghosts? How can you go wrong?

But it is 99 cents for Today Only!

https://goo.gl/wB4zic