Category Archives: Book Reviews
Luke Murphy should be an inspiration to all aspiring novelists. Here is his book and… here is his story:
From Professional Hockey Player to Published Novelist
In the winter of 2000, after sustaining a season ending eye injury while playing professional hockey in Oklahoma City, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands, and a new hobby emerged.
I didn’t write with the intention of being published. I wrote for the love of writing, as a hobby. I continued to hobby write through the years, honing my craft, making time between work and family obligations.
Then I made a decision to take my interest one step further. I’ve never been one to take things lightly or jump in half way. I took a full year off from writing to study the craft.
I constantly read, from novels in my favorite genres to books written by experts in the writing field. My first two purchases were “Stein on Writing”, a book written by successful editor Sol Stein, and “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” by Renni Browne and Dave King.
I read through these novels and highlighted important answers to my questions. My major breakthrough from Stein’s book was to “Show don’t Tell”. I had to trust my readers. I even wrote that phrase on a sticky note and put it on my computer monitor.
The Self-Editing book helped me learn how to cut the FAT off my manuscript, eliminating unnecessary details, making it more lean and crisp, with a better flow. I learned to cut repetition and remain consistent throughout the novel.
I continually researched the internet, reading up on the industry and process “What is selling?” and “Who is buying?” were my two major questions.
I attended the “Bloody Words” writing conference in Ottawa, Canada, rubbing elbows with other writers, editors, agents and publishers. I made friends (published and unpublished authors), bombarding them with questions, learning what it took to become successful.
Feeling that I was finally prepared, in the winter of 2007, with an idea in mind and an outline on paper, I started to write DEAD MAN`S HAND. It took me two years (working around full time jobs) to complete the first draft of my novel.
The first person to read my completed manuscript was my former high school English teacher. With her experience and wisdom, she gave me some very helpful advice. I then hired McCarthy Creative Services to help edit DEAD MAN’S HAND, to make it the best possible novel.
I joined a critique group, teaming up with published authors Nadine Doolittle and Kathy Leveille, and exchanging manuscripts and information. Working with an editor and other authors was very rewarding and not only made my novel better, but made me a better writer.
When I was ready, I researched agents who fit my criteria (successful, worked with my genres, etc.) and sent out query letters. After six months of rejections, I pulled my manuscript back and worked on it again. Then in my next round of proposals, I was offered representation by the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency.
After months of editing with Jennifer, and more rejections from publishers, my dream was finally realized in April, 2012, when I signed a publishing contract with Imajin Books (Edmonton, Alberta).
What happens when the deck is stacked against you…
From NFL rising-star prospect to wanted fugitive, Calvin Watters is a sadistic African-American Las Vegas debt-collector framed by a murderer who, like the Vegas Police, finds him to be the perfect fall-guy.
…and the cards don’t fall your way?
When the brutal slaying of a prominent casino owner is followed by the murder of a well-known bookie, Detective Dale Dayton is thrown into the middle of a highly political case and leads the largest homicide investigation in Vegas in the last twelve years.
What if you’re dealt a Dead Man’s Hand?
Against his superiors and better judgment, Dayton is willing to give Calvin one last chance. To redeem himself, Calvin must prove his innocence by finding the real killer, while avoiding the LVMPD, as well as protect the woman he loves from a professional assassin hired to silence them.
“Dead Man’s Hand is a pleasure, a debut novel that doesn’t read like one, but still presents original characters and a fresh new voice.” Thomas Perry, New York Times bestselling author of Poison Flower
“You may want to give it the whole night, just to see how it turns out.”—William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of The Lincoln Letter
He played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. Since then, he’s held a number of jobs, from sports columnist to radio journalist, before earning his Bachelor of Education degree (Magna Cum Laude).
Murphy`s debut novel, Dead Man`s Hand, was released by Imajin Books on October 20, 2012.
For more information on Luke and his books, visit: www.authorlukemurphy.com, ‘like’ his Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Luke-Murphy/268343729930467 and follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/#!/AuthorLMurphy
I’ve been following David Farland’s newsletter since I found his wonderful Million Dollar Outlines. His almost daily newsletter is a goldmine for any author.
His sixteen year old son was left in a coma from a tragic accident recently. Mr. Farland’s friends have organized a book bomb to help raise money to pay for the $1million+ medical expenses expected. If you are an author, I don’t think you will be disappointed with Million Dollar Outlines. The other book set for the book bomb is a young adult fantasy thriller called Nightingale.
I’m always thrilled to get a new review–I do hope I get to a point soon when it becomes ordinary (hehe). But a review today really made my day.
Kattia from Florida wrote the kindest thing about my short story, Tanaka and the Yakuza’s Daughter.
stars Short But Sweet, February 1, 2013Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)This review is from: Tanaka and the Yakuza’s Daughter (Kindle Edition)
The book as a whole is VERY small in size, but that does not mean it is not good! I was hesitant to get this because of its size. How could something so short possibly be all that good. I was pleasantly surprised to find my self corrected.
C.J. Martin has now become one of my favorite authors now because of this little story. The book literally jumps straight into the action, so if that is what you like, go ahead and get this! You won’t be disappointed!
Wow! Thank you, Kattia. You are so kind. I wish I knew who you were. I’d be thrilled to send you what we are working on to continue the Tanaka story. It is slow going (my Temporal series seems to come together faster), but I really believe the Tanaka stories my partner and I have planned will be fun.
Please click here to read more about Tanaka and the Yakuza’s Daughter.
Tim is Maine’s other great author and, over the past year, I’ve gotten to know him through a mutual Twitter friend. He is always gracious with his time and generous with his advice as a writer. I’m embarrassed how long it took me to write this review. I read his book months ago and promptly forgot to write it. It is an excellent book, fun for all ages, however.
Fantasy–and in particular, young adult fantasy–isn’t my favorite genre. But Tim Greaton’s characters were just fun to get to know. He has a talent for characterization, something I know is very difficult to do right. Madame Koochie is a hoot!
In a matter of hours, young Zachary Pill finds his life shattered. Everything he knows to be a fact may not be so. His weakling of a father may be the strongest being on earth–and beyond! His love for plants may be more than a simple interest in horticulture. And bats! Vicious and nasty flying bats attack him for seemingly no reason. But perhaps these sorts of things often happen to kids with naturally green hair.
Let’s just call the book an imagination overload and a good time was had by all. If you are looking for lighthearted fantasy fun, check out Zachary Pill and his strange family. No bad language, “adult” situations, or graphic violence.
This installment gets you into the world and introduces you to the Pill family. If you find you like it, there are other books in the series. You can buy the three books in an omnibus trilogy set for less than buying the other two individually.
BEST OF ALL–it is free. Download it now for your Kindle.
BTW, my The Temporal is FREE today only. If you don’t have it, please also download my book!
Reviews are sparse, but absolutely thrilling when they come. I hope once I have more products (books), reviews will come easier. I haven’t sought out any or promoted the books much, so I guess this pace isn’t too bad.
Here is the new one 4/5 stars:
Harrowing story of a father and the Japanese Yakuza, July 11, 2012
C.J. Martin’s “Tanaka and the Yakuza’s Daughter” is an action-packed story of a man whose daughter has been kidnapped by the Japanese Yakuza for a reason, and the girl is only 13 years old. The Japanese Mafia is marked by certain tattoos and sometimes a shortened finger, missing the first joint. Tanaka was officially retired for five years, but he was up against nearly impossible odds as one man trying to get his daughter back. These thugs had no qualms about killing.
This short story moves along at a rapid pace and is an exciting piece to read. Japanese culture is very interesting and this gives a peek into the criminal element. The author has included some information about the Yakuza and also a few Japanese characters for a few words, which makes it even more interesting.
Recommended for those who are interested in Japanese culture, action and adventure and the Yakuza.
The Old Man & the Monkey is wonderful–touching and believable (even if it could never happen!).
It follows a very similar format to his Grandfather and the Raven book: an old man befriends an animal that is considered a pest by society; his wife is slowly won over; society doesn’t approve; yet, in the end, their lives and eventually their neighbor’s lives are much richer because of the strange relationship.
It is short–Amazon puts it at 22 pages–and can be read easily in one sitting. (Grandfather and the Raven is much longer) I do not think it should be longer, though. It seems to be just right. Writers tend to add unnecessary words to bolster an artificial word-count. The Old Man and the Monkey gets us right through the story while still managing to create a relaxed “I’ve known this old man for years” feel.
As with this Raven story, it is written in a Japanese fairy tale style and filled with Japanese related themes (because it takes place in Japan). Even though the story is peppered with Japanese terms and culture, it is very readable for all. Three or four Japanese words have footnotes that seem to have been deleted in the ebook format but surely are in the printed version. Again, I don’t think this is a problem even if you don’t know what “onigiri” is. But it would be nice to have that fixed for a future ebook version. (onigiri is a rice ball usually with pickled plum in the middle, by the way.)
The following is an example of the prose. Emotional, romantic, nostalgic, love of nature–these are all words that come to mind. Here, the old man and his loving wife are going on a secluded picnic (where Genjiro would later meet his monkey friend):
Sometimes when the weather was sunny and warm, Genjiro would turn to his wife and smile, and she would nod and pack a lunch with onigiri, dried fish, pickles, and miso soup, and the two of them would go to Genjiro’s favorite spot and spend an hour or more eating and looking and saying very little, because little needs to be said after so many years together.
I probably shouldn’t have chosen that particular sentence since most of his sentences aren’t this long. But when reading it, I thought it exemplified Mr. Polley’s writing style.
The story itself, like the Raven, is an allegory that ends with a moral lesson. This lesson is to not pre-judge others before giving them a chance. It is obviously against racism and prejudice, but not in a beat you over the head way.
In short, buy it and read it! You won’t regret it. It is moving emotionally and a delight to read. If you’ve read his Grandfather and the Raven and enjoyed it, I think you will enjoy this even more despite the similarities.
Five stars! I hope Mr. Polley does more of these. Grandfathers can still do a lot of good things.
Yesterday, I received an email from Adrian Magson–the British spy/thriller writer. Last month, I had asked if he wouldn’t mind reading Two Tocks Before Midnight and then promptly forgot about it. His email yesterday pointed me to his review on Amazon.com. Whohoo!
First, I have to say that I am deeply honored that Mr. Magson would read my stuff and thrilled that he would take the time to review it. I highly recommend his two Harry Tate thrillers Red Station (see my review here) and Tracers (my review forthcoming).
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, February 20, 2012This review is from: Two Tocks before Midnight (Kindle Edition)
I found this a pleasant change to read, harking back in style and language to the writing of Poe and others, but with a slight modern twist. Good story and atmospheric portrayal of characters and setting.
Needless to say, I was feeling pretty good about that.
THEN, this morning, I had another surprise. Yet another review!
5.0 out of 5 stars Tick Tock Totally Worth Reading!, February 20, 2012Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)This review is from: Two Tocks before Midnight (Kindle Edition)
I was enthralled with the story Sherlock Holmes-esk, the story is unique and fun to read. A short story that isn’t bogged down with unnecessary verbage or so thin that a reader is left wondering what is going on. The writting brings me back to nostalgic readings of classic literature.
Lyne, I do not know you, but THANK YOU!
If anyone would like to read Two Tocks Before Midnight (about 10,000 words–a long short story or short novella) for free (whether or not you write a review), please contact me via this website.
I’m pleased to recommend a book I just read by George Polley. Mr. Polley lives in Hokkaido, Japan and has written two books (I haven’t read the other one yet) in a style reminiscent of Japanese folk tales–mukashi banashi. Sort of. It is written in a way that both children and adults would find charming. Download the free preview to get a taste of his writing to see what I mean.
The Raven is Grandfather’s friend and mentor. Through the eyes of these two, be prepared to experience a universe where good is vindicated and the world just seems like it is a better place–and after reading this book, I think it is.
I loved the language and style. It was perfect for a story about a gentle and loving ojiisan, Grandfather in Japanese. It reminds me of the best of Thornton Burgess’ stories about Ready Fox but with a Japanese twist. Even more striking is how Mr. Polley smoothly transitioned from “reality” (humans don’t understand ravens–of course not!) to even the policeman hearing the raven in perfect Japanese.
There are morals to the stories that are sometimes obvious, usually not. But in every case, the stories do not hit the reader over the head with a message. Different readers may take away different things from the book.
The language is simple and accessible. Each story is short enough to be read in a single sitting or during bed-time storytime. This could easily be one of the top five to ten books to keep on your child’s bed stand.