Southwest Florida weather can be tempestuous. I wasn’t thinking this as I booked my trip, last minute, to finish writing my new book, The Bay.
Usually I travel here with the family during Spring Break. Those days are filled with unbroken sunshine. I wasn’t thinking about stormy weather as I boarded in Burlington and flew to Philly for a connection.
In Philly I met Jack and Doug, two guys who sat beside me on the plane. Both Jack and Doug were perpetual travelers – Jack, a software engineer, had been away from home thirty-nine weeks the year before. Doug, who worked in hotel management, almost as much.
They each knew flight protocol by heart and we joked Jack could recite the entire takeoff procedure in his sleep. When a passenger got up before the seat-belt sign was doused, both Jack and Doug frowned with disapproval.
“Philadelphia is the worst,” Jack told me after we sat on the runway for an hour. Out the porthole window I saw a dozen planes queued for takeoff.
Once airborne, Jack watched a movie on his phone and Doug finished his book Mojado. When we landed in Fort Myers, Doug gave me the book as a gift. I debarked the plane with Jack and introduced him to my father who was waiting for me beyond the security checkpoint.
“We met on the plane,” Jack said, shaking my father’s hand. “Your son sat next to me.”
“Sorry to hear that,” my father said.
My father is hilarious.
He actually gave me a lot of helpful tips as we drove around these past couple days under baleful skies, which I used to polish up the manuscript. We visited a couple sites where I’d staged scenes in the book and I just took it all in, whatever came, even the stormy weather.
I did try to go to the beach, and dragged my father with me. Overcast, smelling of fish, it was still completely awesome. The Gulf water was 87 degrees. I took a walk by myself, no kids, no one to talk to, and actually had thoughts of my own in my head. As I walked along the Naples Pier, I even imagined I was psychic, and as I threaded through the crowd had images of them in their lives, things I could never know, but suddenly felt as though I did, intimately.
Which is why it’s probably good I’m not often alone with my thoughts.
I heard at least four different languages on the pier. I looked west and imagined Mexico, looked south and thought of Central America, and traveling there with my wife someday.
Back at my father’s condo, we met up with Smitty, aka Sergeant Andrew Smith, while smoking cigars out front. I’d gone for a long morning walk with Smitty while I was there in the spring, and gotten an earful of stories about his world in Vice Narcotics – things I shouldn’t speak of here. For real. But things that, with discretion, have trickled into the book.
The Bay is actually the third book I’ve written that takes place in Southwest Florida. One of those was a novella I self-published some years ago, and the other was a novel I’ve since shelved, indefinitely. For a while I was starting to think there was a “Florida curse,” but that curse has been lifted. The book is complete.
Tomorrow I fly back to New York to my wife and three kids.
And I’ve just decided, just now, that I’m dedicating the story to Joy, my father’s great friend who passed away a couple years back. Because of Joy, who moved here from New York, my father settled in Naples after retiring. If it wasn’t for her, The Bay would never have been written.
I’ll keep you posted on its release.
Take care, travel safe, stay cool, keep reading.
Across the U.S., tens of thousands of individuals suffer from ideas of persecution, surveillance, and stalking, in what could be called a sprawling, shared psychotic disorder. As reported in this fascinating New York Times article, various mental health issues, ranging from delusion to schizophrenia, can evolve in the echo chamber of the internet. This is a new phenomenon, with little research and only a nascent understanding.
A recent reviewer of my new book had this to say:
I wish I could dedicate this outstanding story to my friend (Tommy N), who is no longer with us. See, Tommy had experienced many of the same challenges that the main character faced throughout “Gone.” For the many who have dealt with the issues faced by those portrayed by the characters in “Gone” this is an uplifting read. It helps with the pain of losing someone like Tommy N.
So, I’m not one to gripe about technology. Glitches happen, you shrug it off.
Most of us are familiar with Goodreads, a site where readers can rate books, write reviews, send one another recommendations, and so on.
GONE, my latest thriller, had close to 500 ratings on Goodreads two days ago. There were 36 written reviews. The book was hovering around a 3.8 overall score. Not amazing (by my own personal standards) but pretty good.
I write books some people really love, and some people hate.
A lot of people loved GONE. I was checking in daily, and in the beginning, the four star reviews were strongest, followed by the five star reviews, with the threes closing in. Why would anyone besides me and my wife care about this? Because yesterday, those 500 ratings and 36 reviews suddenly dropped to 350 ratings, 22 reviews.
This screenshot here shows that when you google search “gone brearton,” you can see a preview of the Goodreads stats for the book. It shows 467 ratings.
I took that screenshot this morning. I say the book had around 500 reviews, and it did – it takes a little time for the stats to filter through to google. But GONE was getting about 30 new ratings a day, and it was climbing quick.
Then, yesterday, 150 of those ratings disappeared. What’s more, most of them were the five star ratings. There were around 120 five star ratings – I can’t recall the exact number – and then there were 90. As a result, the book had a lower overall score, around 3.65.
What happened to those 150 ratings? I wrote into to Goodreads and heard back – speedily I should add – from a Goodreads “expert.” The expert said that Goodreads was a live site, a book’s page was “dynamic” and readers removed books from their shelves, or deleted accounts.
Okay… But 150 of them?? All at once? Even over a week’s time (if Goodreads was just catching up to the changes), 150 people suddenly de-shelving the book or deleting their account is a lot. And it has never, ever happened to any of my books, and I’ve been an author on Goodreads for over three years.
Unfortunately I don’t have a screenshot of the book’s page the day it was around 500. I have one from a week before that, here:
and then two days later:
You can see that the book was humming along, going from 335 ratings to 399 ratings, as it was getting those thirty-odd new ratings a day. Yet, at the time of this blog post, there are 382 ratings, with 23 reviews. That’s less than the 500 I recall, less than the 467 shown this morning on Google, less than the 399 shown in my screenshot above.
What happened? I guess I’ll never know. I’ve created a message board on Goodreads, I’ve sent into two queries, I replied to the expert but have not heard back… Nothing. Is it the government, angry with me for writing a book about cover-ups? You know, I’d be the first person to laugh at that idea, but man, where have those ratings gone?
GONE is one of three books in the North Country Crime Series. The stories take place in and around the Adirondack Park in upstate, New York and feature some of the same locales and characters.
Dark Kills (North Country Crime #2)
Detective Dana Gates and her partner Robert Hamill race against the clock to stop a serial killer before any more college girls wind up dead. The only link between victims is their participation in a bizarre psychology experiment…
Dark Web (North Country Crime #1)
In today’s ultra-connected, digital world, online gaming is a global past time. What happens when someone takes the game outside of the virtual world and into the real one? What if it’s a vicious war game with a take-no-prisoners mentality? What if your teenager is one of the kids playing the game?
Gone, my newest suspense thriller published by Joffe Books, has hit an all-time high today, garnering an overall e-book ranking of #5 in the United Kingdom and #28 in the United States!
That puts in in league with books like The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, Before the Fall by Noah Hawley, and The Last Mile by David Baldacci.
More importantly, readers seem to love it.
“What a twisted and Intense thriller. I devoured this book!” – Amazon US review
“Absolutely brilliant. Very clever storytelling.” – Amazon UK review
Gone is the third book in the North Country Crime Series. The books can be read alone or together to enjoy the reappearance of certain characters and locales. Dark Web is the first book, followed by Dark Kills.
Thank you to all readers and supporters!
What genres do you write?
Crime, Detective, Mystery, Thriller.
What inspires you to write?
Current events. Metaphysics. Crime. Hot-button issues. Other books, movies, TV shows. My kid’s pet goldfish.
Tell us about your writing process.
Sometimes it will begin with a sentence. Other times I’ll have a short list of ideas I’ll want to put together to form a story. I think I’ve become a little bit more of a planner, but not by much. The whiteboards in my offices tend to be used to sort out messes, not to outline. I do a lot of reverse engineering. This may be time consuming, and it may change as I continue to mature, but I like to not know where the story is going to take me when writing the rough draft.
Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Both. There’s a “listening” that happens in early drafts, but later the dialog gets revised along with anything else, and has to serve the story and the characters. Writers may be born with a repertory theater company in their heads, but unless you truly have multiple personalities, or have done some deep method acting, or are steeped in months – maybe years – of character research, it’s not always easy to sound like real, other people.
Who are your favorite authors?
I don’t like apple pie, but I like Stephen King. Now that we got that out of the way, I enjoy a range of authors, from David Benioff to Paolo Coehlo. Dennis Lehane is like the lead horse in the race – he’s so toned and well-muscled as a writer I set down the book almost every page and go “damn you, Lehane!” Cormac McCarthy is another one. He’s just so good. I want to get into some new authors like China Meiville. Robert Ellis is a good author – Access to Power and The Dead Room.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I self-published for a few years but I was in way over my head. Someone angel-invested in a book of mine and we printed 500 copies. I think I have 486 left. Every time I move, I move those boxes. They’re a reminder that the horse goes before the cart. Meaning, I needed someone to vet my writing. I think these days, small publishers are really auteurs. They’re editors, and they publish. Having that keen eye for concision and a really good grasp of the market is huge, and I just didn’t have the time or the skills. Not that I just “decided to get published” and it happened (I hate it when interviewees skip over the agony that is submission). I submitted for years. But I was submitting huge novels, barely edited, as an unproven author. I had to get humble, to break it down. I started writing and submitting short stories after I’d already written half a dozen novels. I got a few short stories published. It helped me to better learn the query process, and how to really have something tightly edited.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I have no idea. One part of me thinks, you know, you have the big five, and they dominate, yet these smaller publishers have gotten that democratic digital advantage. With Kindle readers, doesn’t matter how big of a publisher you are. That’s why even Amazon has its own Thomas & Mercer imprint. I think people still like analog books – I know I do. I barely read on Kindle. I do a little, and will do more in time, I’m sure – I just still have a lot of backlogged paperbacks to get through. I think we’ll have both for a long time. I think everything is going digital though – life is going digital, so eventually, all of this tactile stuff will be gone. I hope not, but, maybe. Probably.
Want to win a copy of T.J. Brearton’s newest thriller?
See this #AmazonGiveaway for a chance to win: GONE a gripping crime thriller full of suspense (Kindle Edition). https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/783ba671cc7b399e NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of May 24, 2016 11:59 PM PDT, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules http://amzn.to/GArules.
From the New Yorker:
Search for the cause, find the impetus that bids you write. Put it to this test: Does it stretch out its roots in the deepest place of your heart? Can you avow that you would die if you were forbidden to write? Above all, in the most silent hour of your night, ask yourself this: Must I write? Dig deep into yourself for a true answer. And if it should ring its assent, if you can confidently meet this serious question with a simple, ‘I must,’ then build your life upon it.
Detective Rondeau is new to the Stock County Sheriff’s Department. A veteran cop from Washington D.C., he moved to Upstate New York to start over.
Now a family is missing. They have two small children. When Detective Rondeau views one of their home videos, he sees someone in the shadows, watching the family.
Rondeau’s brother-in-law, Millard, is full of wild conspiracy theories. Could he be right this time? Or, is Rondeau’s past as a cop in D.C. catching up with him? What about a local man suspected of mob dealings? Or the violent Rafferty brothers? With dangers in every direction, Rondeau struggles to keep his sanity and find the missing family before it’s too late…
This book will be available to order in May, 2016!
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